The Future Is African

Projections show that by 2050, Africa’s population will double. By 2100, one in three people on Earth will be African. This means that, by the end of the century, sub-Saharan Africa—which already has an extraordinarily young population—will be home to almost half of the young people in the world. In this episode, two experts examine whether Africa’s youth boom will be a blessing or a curse.

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting
Episode Guests
  • Michelle Gavin
    Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies
  • John Githongo
    Inuka Kenya Trust, CEO

Show Notes

In most African countries, 70 percent or more of the population is under the age of thirty, a youth bulge that is projected to accelerate for decades to come. Some experts feel that if properly harnessed, the youth boom could propel the continent to new levels of economic and geopolitical power. Others suggest that without innovation, rapid development, and massive job creation, it could instead lead to worse levels of poverty, unemployment, and conflict. In the meantime, countries such as China are moving quickly to invest in Africa’s future, while the United States and other Western nations have taken more passive roles.


From CFR


Nigeria and the Nation-State, John Campbell


China in Africa,” Eleanor Albert


Ethiopia: East Africa’s Emerging Giant,” Claire Felter


A Conversation with Dr. K.Y. Amoako on the Future of African Development,” Michelle Gavin


Amid Major Transformations, Africa Will Play an Important Role in Shaping the Future,” Michelle Gavin


The United States and Europe Should Work Together to Promote a Prosperous Africa,” Michelle Gavin


How to Think About Africa’s ‘Rising Middle Class’ Amid COVID-19,” John Campbell


From John Githongo


Africa’s Generational War,” Foreign Policy


Read More


Charts of the Week: Africa’s changing demographics,” Brookings Institution


Youth Empowerment,” United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa 


Africa’s Population Will Double by 2050,” Economist


Kenya’s changing population captured in 100 photos,” BBC


Africa 2050: Demographic Truth and Consequences,” Hoover Institution 


Population Facts, December 2019 [PDF],” United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs


Africa’s population boom: burden or opportunity?,” Institute for Security Studies


China Africa Research Initiative, Johns Hopkins University


Watch or Listen


How Africa’s population boom is changing our world,” BBC


Yes She Can, with Candice Chirwa,” Africa Matters


How Will a Population Boom Change Africa?,” BBC’s The Inquiry


Supply Chains

Feeding the world's eight billion people has never been easy. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine shocked the market for fertilizer, that task has gotten even harder. The fertilizer crisis threatens to exacerbate food insecurity worldwide, especially in low-income countries already reeling from record-high inflation and rapidly depreciating currencies. What is fertilizer’s role in the food supply chain?

Nuclear Weapons

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the possibility of nuclear war felt like a problem of days past. Now, as great-power competition heats up, the potential for nuclear conflict seems higher than at any point in decades. How did the nuclear taboo fade, and what does nuclear proliferation mean for the United States?

National Security and Defense Program

All current U.S. military personnel have one thing in common: they volunteered. But falling recruitment has raised questions of national security, military readiness, and the health of U.S. society. Can the all-volunteer force handle a changing international security landscape?

Top Stories on CFR

United States

The stories of five Americans who were awarded the Medal of Honor for making the ultimate sacrifice.



As armed conflict rages on, Sudan’s devastating humanitarian crisis continues to worsen. More than one million people could flee to neighboring countries, threatening regional upheaval.