Rise of the Rest: A Vision Deferred

Changing demographics and the commodities crash have slowed down the development of poorer countries.

Perhaps it all started with a turn in China’s demographics. Demand growth for commodities has declined sharply from recent years and has resulted in a crash of global prices. Copper is down 54% from its post 2008 peak and down 25% this year alone. Crude oil is down 67% and 39% in the same time spans. In addition to softer demand, prices were negatively impacted by jumps in supply, most notably from shale energy producers in the United States. Read more

Providing Electricity to Africa by 2050

How many Africans will have access to electricity by 2050?

According to the World Bank’s latest figures, 64.6% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lacked access to electricity in 2012, or a total of 572 million people. Across the world, 1.09 billion have no access to electricity. So, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than half the total.

Given the expected boom in the African population and the likely increase in access, the demand for electricity infrastructure is going to explode between now and 2050. On UN estimates (medium variant), the sub-Saharan population will jump from 886 million in 2012 to 2.1 billion in 2050. Assuming that each country’s current access rate remains the same, 381 million additional people will have access to electricity and 855 million additional people will not. Read more

Pakistan’s Looming Water Crisis


Between 2011 and 2012, the urban population of Pakistan grew by more than 2.2 million people. The country’s urban residents now make up 38 percent of its total population of about 180 million. Much of this urban growth, according to an official at Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics, is a result of rural-to-urban migration. Islamabad, for example, has seen its population grow rapidly from 800,000 in 1998 to more than 2 million today. Current estimates predict the country will shift to a majority urban population within 20 years.

Pakistan’s urbanization story is by no means unique, but it raises significant questions about its future. Sheer population growth has occurred at a swift pace. According to figures from the United Nations, Pakistan’s total population sees a net increase of more than 3.3 million people per year. As more of this growth occurs in urban areas, the country’s stressed infrastructure and public services will be put to the test. READ MORE.

Pakistan Opinion: Our Population Time Bomb

ZUBEIDA MUSTAFA WRITES IN THE NEWSPAPER DAWN ON PAKISTAN’S HIGH FERTILITY RATE. Pakistan’s population is now almost 180 million. According to a UN report published in 2010, the country’s total fertility rate (TFR) is the second highest (after Afghanistan) in central Asia at 3.2 children per woman, compared to a replacement rate of 2.1 and a world average of 2.4. On the UN’s medium variant estimate which assumes a decline in the TFR to 1.84 by 2050, the Pakistani population will reach 275 million by 2050. With the constant-fertility variant (no decline in the TFR), the population would grow to nearly 380 million by 2050.

Mustafa’s article in Dawn starts here:

PAKISTAN’S Population Census Organisation’s website has a population clock on the home page which gave the country’s population as 179,850,379 on Tuesday — an average increase of 9,700 every day.

According to the National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS), Islamabad, the country’s population was 133.3 million in 1998 when the last census was held. This comes to a whopping increase of 34.8 per cent in 13 years (2.6 per cent per annum) which surprisingly has gone unnoticed. In effect we have slipped down from the two per cent (NIPS) or 1.8 per cent (World Bank) figure we were given as the growth rate for 2010.

We have regressed to the 1980s and this has phenomenal significance for the country’s economy, politics, quality of human life, law and order, in fact for its very survival.

If proof were needed of the apathy that marks people’s attitudes towards their own wellbeing, this is it. Not that everyone is uniformly indifferent. After all the marriage age of girls has gone up somewhat, female enrolment in school has increased and there is a remarkable growth in female awareness about the importance of small families and contraceptives. But the family size has not decreased and contraceptive prevalence remains dismally low.

We know little about the dynamics of family planning. It is assumed that women are irrational about motherhood. Hence new terms are coined to appeal to them to be sensible. What was simply family planning is now the Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies programme to persuade them to have a gap of three years between their children to ensure healthy babies. That has hardly helped. What women want are the services. They are not empowered enough to get them on their own.

Take the case of Yasmin who is 29 years old and lives under the poverty line as defined by development economists. She was married at 21 (her eldest sister was married at 12). She has attended school and is quite fluent in reading and writing. Yasmin is expecting her fifth baby. She has experimented with various contraceptives and seems to be quite ill-informed about them all. READ MORE.


Pakistan: Small Declines in Population Growth and Fertility Rate


The country’s population growth, crude birth, fertility and infant mortality rates have improved over the last one-year with the government attributing the phenomenon to better provision of health and population welfare services to people.

According to the latest Economic Survey of Pakistan, the country’s population growth rate declined from 2.05 per cent in 2010-11 to 2.03 per cent in 2011-12, while the crude birth rate dropped from 27.5 (per thousand) to 27.2 (per thousand) and the total fertility rate from 3.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent during the said period. READ MORE.