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

Demography, the Global Emergency

It is not an exaggeration to say that world demographics are entering uncharted territory. For the first time in a very long time, perhaps the first time ever, the dependency ratios (loosely, the ratio of dependents to workers) of all rich nations and of several emerging markets have started rising and will continue to rise for several decades.

This alone would be enough of a challenge for the world economy. But making things more complicated, it is taking place at the same time as the other big demographic transition of our age, the great population boom in some of the poorest nations of the world. Read more

CNBC: Governments Organize Matchmaking as Asia’s Birth Rates Fall

Several Asian countries have come up with special programs and innovative ways of encouraging people to get married and have more kids.

RAJESHNI NAIDU-GHELANI writes at CNBC:

For Singapore citizen Kelly Ang, 25, who married a year ago, having a baby is not a top priority. The public relations professional, who works 11 hours a day, said she has no time to raise a family.

“At the moment I think it is difficult if I were to hold my current job and have a child too,” Ang said. “The work-life balance is something that would be a deterrent.”

Ang is one of many young people across Asia whose decision to put off having children is worrying their governments. From Taiwan to Singapore, authorities are stepping in to organize speed dating and other matchmaking events in a desperate attempt to stem falling birth rates. READ MORE.

LA Times: Beyond 7 Billion

KENNETH R. WEISS at THE LOS ANGELES TIMES explores the Population Boom in a five-part series:

After remaining stable for most of human history, the world’s population has exploded over the last two centuries. The boom is not over: The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years. The coming wave will reshape the planet, and the impact will be greatest in the poorest, most unstable countries.

Part 1: The biggest generation