Saturday, June 15, 2013

UN projects Kenya to grow older and healthier

An enumerator records data during the National Census in August 2009. Kenya will become an older and healthier nation in the coming decades, the United Nations said in a revised global population forecast issued on June 14, 2013. FILE

An enumerator records data during the National Census in August 2009. Kenya will become an older and healthier nation in the coming decades, the United Nations said in a revised global population forecast issued on June 14, 2013. FILE 

By KEVIN KELLEY, Nation Correspondent in New York

Kenya will become an older and healthier nation in the coming decades, the United Nations said in a revised global population forecast issued on Friday.

The number of Kenyans is projected to climb from 44 million today, to nearly 60 million during the next decade, and to almost 100 million by 2050.

The nation's population will reach 160 million by the start of the next century, according to the new outlook.

By 2050, Kenya will rank as the world's 20th most populous nation and it will be the 15th largest by 2100, the UN says.

The country will also grow steadily older, with the current median age of 18 expected to more than double -- to 37 years of age -- by 2100.

Life expectancy will also increase sharply as the 21st century unfolds. A Kenyan born this year can expect to live for 61.6 years. By 2050, life expectancy will reach 71.5 years and will almost touch 80 at the start of the 22nd century.

Although the nation's population is forecast to grow considerably, Kenyan women will be having fewer babies on average. The current fertility rate of 4.4 (the average number of births per woman) will decline to 2.8 by the middle of this century and drop further to 1.9 by the beginning of the next century.

A much higher proportion of Kenyan babies will survive their first few months. The number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births currently totals 51.6, and is expected to drop sharply to 12.1 by the end of the century.

Assessing overall population trends, UN Undersecretary General Wu Hongbo said that while the rate of increase has slowed globally, "this report reminds us that some developing countries, especially in Africa, are still growing rapidly".

Most of the projected growth in the world's population -- from 7.2 billion at present to nearly 11 billion by 2100 -- will take place in developing countries, particularly black Africa, the UN says.

Uganda will have surpassed Kenya in population by 2050, according to the forecast. There will then be 104 million Ugandans and 97 million Kenyans, the UN says.

Nigeria will become the world's third-biggest country by the middle of this century, with 440 million people. The United States will then rank fourth, with 401 million. India will have more people -- 1.6 billion -- than any other country by 2050, the report says, with China a close second.

Nigeria's population is projected to more than double in the second half of this century, reaching 914 million by 2100.

advertisement