In 2050, the world population will have grown to 9.7 billion people, according to a new report by the UN, “World Population Prospects.” The numbers are higher than earlier
estimates and the population growth will especially take place in Africa as the life expectancy will increase in spectacular fashion. More than half of the growth will take place in Africa, while in ten countries the population will multiply five times over. India will overtake China in 2022, six years earlier than expected before. Nigeria will surpass USA in third place and will count a whopping 400 million people.
This may cause substantial stress in African countries as they will have to make their resources available for more people. Education, food security and healthcare will be under pressure. Europe will begin to face problems because numbers are decreasing instead. In 2050, a third of its population will be above 60. Worldwide, the number of people of eighty years and above will have tripled.
Meanwhile, Africa in general, and Ethiopia in particular, are enjoying steep economic growth and when managed well, this may help ease some of the population pressure challenges ahead.
And while we have tried to meet the millennium development goals and have made some good headway here, we have now embarked on a set of sustainable development goals to pursue.
With what we know in terms of climate change and population growth, we have no option than to do things differently and in a way that indeed sustains this world instead of exploiting it to the end.
We have entered in a new era indeed, in which Ethiopia will begin to prosper and stand out in terms of development and growth. That sounds exciting and promising but just saying it is not going to make it happen. It takes action to make it happen and the way we have been doing things so far really needs to change. It also takes the efforts of many to make it happen. The government alone cannot make it happen and neither can the private sector, the church, donor organizations or individuals for that matter. It needs a massive makeover of the way we do things if you ask me. If we want different and better results, we need to do things differently. We cannot expect things to improve if we keep doing things the same way as before.
Over the past few years, we witnessed remarkable improvement in services and infrastructure in this city and I believe in other parts of the country as well. This may easily deteriorate dramatically again if we do not sustain our efforts to make things better instead of experiencing frequent power cuts, poor road maintenance and no marked improvement in telecommunications and internet services to mention just a few. Interestingly enough, these are essential ingredients to encourage entrepreneurship and attract domestic and foreign investors, which is what we need if we are to create the jobs needed to employ the growing numbers; jobs for millions.
Something else has to change however, as well, if we are to live together in harmony while the population keeps growing the way the UN predicts. We need to change basic attitudes and the way we behave towards each other. I see a growing sense of selfishness in general as promises are not kept and the interests of others are ignored. It is “Me first, then you.” If these are the first days of a new era, things need to change indeed. So what can be done? What is it that needs to change? Here follow some suggestions – in no particular order of what I think can be done differently individually, socially and corporately.
I could go on but looking over the table it is really all about respect, mutual benefit, efficiency and effectiveness instead of selfish, short term gain. It is about making a choice, a conscious decision to want to make a difference and take responsibility so that we will get better results over time.