United Nations World Population Prospects report said on Wednesday that India would in six years sooner than previously forecast overtake China and become the world’s most populous country.
John Wilmoth, Head of the UN Population division said in New York, that the report indicated that Nigeria was on course to outstrip the US by 2050 to become the third largest population.
He said that the current global population of 7.3 billion was forecast to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, slightly above the last set of UN projections.
Wilmoth said that most growth would happen in developing regions, particularly Africa.
He said that the demographic forecasts were crucial for designing and implementing the new global development goals being launched later in 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals.
“The concentration of growth in the poorest countries will make it harder to eradicate poverty, combat hunger and expand schooling and health systems.
Wilmoth said that research by experts predicted that Africa would account for more than half the world’s population growth in the next 35 years.
He said that 10 African countries which include Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia are projected to increase their population’s five-fold or more by 2100.
“Future population growth is highly dependent on the path of future fertility, as relatively small changes in fertility can, projected over decades, generate large differences in total population.
“In recent years, fertility has declined in almost all parts of the world, while life expectancy has increased significantly in the poorest countries, rising from 56 to 62 per cent since the beginning of the century,” he said.
He said that the report indicated that declining fertility and rising life expectancy mean the world was getting greyer.
Wilmoth said that as a result of this most regions would have an ageing population, starting with Europe where one third of the population was projected to be over 60 by 2050.
“Globally, the number of people aged 80 or over – currently 125 million – is projected to more than triple by 2050 and to increase more than seven times by 2100.
“But populations in many regions are still young. In Africa, children under 15 account for two fifths of the population.
“The large number of young people in Africa who will reach adulthood in the coming years and have children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades,” he said.