Nigeria’s Population: From 196million to 411million


If the projections from the United Nations and World Poverty Clock are correct, Nigeria will be the 3 most populous country by 2050, from the 7th position in 2018. That means Nigeria’s population is projected to increase from 196million to 411million, adding 215million in 32 years. That may be good news as most countries will like to do business with Nigeria to enjoy part of the large market that would be created by then. However, this huge population size may be a ticking time bomb if not well planned for.

Nigeria’s population is projected to add 215million in 32 years.

Perhaps the expected growth in Nigeria’s population would not bother the policymakers and economic managers if the Nigerian economy was reset in a turbocharged engine that will make it run or expand by about 7% annually. By 2050, the size of the Nigerian economy measured by the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could increase to N608trillion from N69trillion as at end of 2018 meaning that the economy would have multiplied by 8.72 times within the period. This would be far higher than the expected 2.10 times increase in the population and interestingly the GDP per head would have increased by 4.16times. The reset buttons that can accelerate the engine from the current speed are steady and reliable power supply, good roads, improved security, law and order, social investment in education and healthcare delivery. Once these buttons are pressed, they will open the way for private investment that can create job opportunities and increase opportunities both for government and the citizens. At that level, Nigeria will have a large market with strong purchasing power.

Reset buttons to accelerate the growth in the economy include steady power supply, good roads and improved security

Accelerating the speed of the economy by pressing the buttons mentioned above seems to be the best option. A strategy to limit the number of children per family is being debated as a nation. This would be good if it could make a difference. But it appears that the current culture and religious inclination in Nigeria favour relatively large families. In addition, it has been pointed out that darkness as a result of no electricity and low level of education
are important factors that promote fertility. If young girls are encouraged to enrol in school and continue with quality education up until university level and beyond, and there are quality jobs waiting for them after graduation, the incidence of teenagers having children will reduce dramatically. Another argument is that even if Nigeria limits the fertility rate and manages to control the population growth rate, as long as the economy is not growing fast enough, poverty in the land will continue.

In 2050, it is expected that 72% of Nigeria’s population will be living in urban areas.

At 411 million population in 2050, Nigeria’s population would have overtaken the population of Pakistan, Brazil, Indonesia and the United States, who currently have higher populations than Nigeria. Nigeria will only be behind China and India which are predicted to be 2nd and 1st most populous countries respectively at that time. Not only this, it is expected that 72% of Nigeria’s population at that time will be living in urban areas, higher than 52% at the moment. Just imagine 296million people trying to speed across Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt without any substantial increase in the current job opportunities and the infrastructure in those cities. Poverty level will definitely increase. This will not be in the interest of any stakeholder in the project Nigeria. Therefore, the country needs to press the urgent button to defuse the time bomb of growth in population.

Development of the rural economy will help to reduce rural-urban migration

FSDH Research notes that there is strength in large numbers. China, Brazil, Indonesia and the United States have taken advantage of their large population to grow their economy. They have increased investment, technological prowess, employment, and standard of living. The GDP per head in these countries is higher than that of Nigeria, further reiterating our position that there is strength in numbers. Our calculation shows that India was able to lift about 47million persons out of poverty between 2016 and 2019. The World Poverty Clock estimates that the poverty rate in India is 3% while that of Nigeria is 48%. According to the World Bank, the average life expectancy in Nigeria is 53.88years while it is 68.8years in India and 76.41years in China.

Development of the rural economy with the goal to increase economic activity in rural communities will help to reduce rural-urban migration. The government can encourage investment into rural areas by leveraging on agriculture and other natural resources that are endowed in each area. In addition, infrastructural facilities such as roads, telecommunication, water, and electricity should be provided in order to attract investors. We see Nigeria as a world power by 2050, leveraging the population size to gather large economic power.