Africa 21st Century Overview

Africa’s population is now growing at 2.7 % a year, from just over 8 million in 2000 to 1.3 billion in 2021 according to ISS. Africa is now often regarded as the next potential large growth market due to a young working population.

In this past 20 years, Africa as a whole has witnessed a dramatic decline in warfare, with the Oxford Research Group reporting a 95% reduction in deaths from conflict from 2000 to 2012.

Africa is home to many natural resources, and in the last 20 years, African countries have seen the benefits from higher global commodity prices. Economic growth is consistent with an average GDP growth rate of 4.6% since 2000 according to the DI. This consistency is positive, but African countries have a long way to go to compare with most of the world.

One of the most significant changes in these last 20 years is the increase in mobile phone use and internet penetration in Africa. This emerging digital platform enables increased consumer information, job resources, networking, healthcare information and mobile banking. Since the early 2000s, Sub-Saharan Africa’s average literacy rate has improved from 56% to 65% according to Macro Trends data.

However, Economic growth has not been translated into significant poverty reduction, but instead continues to emphasise wage inequality. The Borgen Project has recorded that the African continent contains 75% of the poorest countries in the world. In addition, many women still don’t have access to education and over a million people are still dying from malaria every year.


Kenya became one of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economies in 2019 at 5.7%, The World Banks figures have suggested. A large change is in its tech-savvy industries and economy, displaying 70% of all Kenyans having a mobile money account.

Even though relatively Kenya is achieving steady growth compared to most other African countries, Harvard Business Review has stated a Kenyan is still only going to achieve around 50% of their potential due to weak education and health systems. Additionally, there is large inequality in opportunities, especially for rural communities and city slums.

Since 2003, Kenya now provides free primary schooling, greatly expanding its education system.


Still one of the poorest countries in the world, and with half the population below the poverty line and 25% of the population living in extreme poverty. Malawi is heavily dependent on agriculture, making up nearly 80% of the population’s employment, so is vulnerable to climate impacts.

After the introduction of free primary education was introduced in 1994, Malawi’s education system has seen an increase in enrolment numbers, however, this has caused strains in teaching materials, infrastructure, teachers, but does not follow through with the dropout rate remaining significant.


Tanzania is similar to Malawi in that it is highly dependent on its agriculture.

Improvements can be seen with a fall in child mortality by 60% and life expectancy has risen from 50 years old to 65 in recent years according to Knoema’s world data. A population of near 50,000,000, of which 80% is in rural areas, where malnutrition, poverty and inequality are still very evident.

Africa’s Future

The Economist has predicted Africa’s population will double by 2050, so the potential strain on education capacity, housing and healthcare are great. Organisations like Education in Africa are therefore massively important in supporting both population and economic growth.

Educ4africa.ord aims to make a positive contribution to the quality of education and drive improvements in learning conditions and student prospects in the worst affected areas of Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania.

For more information email [email protected].