Former President John Mahama says the greatest threat to security in West Africa is the rise of terrorist insurgency.
“The rise of terrorist insurgency is as much the result of inequality and poverty, as it is, of religious ideological brainwashing,” he stressed.
The former President was speaking at 7th RealNews Magazine anniversary lecture in Nigeria.
According to him, this is exacerbated by the exclusion of large segments of the populations from the modest economic growth that our countries are enjoying.
Increasingly, he said, insurgency is also being fuelled by competition for dwindling natural resources to sustain life and economic activity, such as land and fresh water.
“This general insecurity affects investment and hurts economic activity. The whole of the Sahel/Savannah Region stretching as far as into Central and East Africa, and all the way to Northern Mozambique face some degree of threat from terrorist insurgency,” he said.
Mr. Mahama said the world is experiencing a changing population demographic.
According to him, while population growth in the developed world has slowed, to an extent where in some parts the rate of child birth is below the human replacement level in maintaining the size of their population, in other places especially Africa, the population is growing at an explosive rate.
Africa’s population currently stands at about 1.1 billion people.
At current rates, it could soar to four billion people by the end of the century, 2100.
Nigeria alone will have approximately 400 million people and become the third most populous country after China and India.
Africa has averagely 4.8 live births per woman, which is still lower than the average of 6.8 in the late 70’s.
This demographic dividend presents both a benefit and a risk.
An energetic workforce with greater prosperity if the next generations lower their fertility rates and have fewer babies.
Smaller families allow more women to secure paid work, and parents and Governments are able to invest greater resources in each child.
The challenge facing Africa at the present rate of population growth is how to find jobs for this teeming population of young people.
Africa adds almost 12 million young people to the job market every year, and yet is able to produce only about 7 million sustainable jobs.
This means almost 5 million idle hands every year.
African economies must grow and clip along at above 8% GDP growth rate to be able to sustain this rate of population growth.
Mr. Mahama added that Africa need to aggressively position its economies for growth in other to provide more employment avenues for our growing populations.