Capacity Strengthening Activity on Sustainable Population Growth in Africa

Arusha - Tanzania

From: May 30, 2022 | to: Jun 03, 2022

Moderator: Fidelis M. Aluoch - Programme Executive – Population and Development


The issue of population has continued to be debated for many decades with different positions taken in different contexts as may be informed by different cultural, religious, and political dynamics. That notwithstanding, there is an extraordinary population surge across the continent of Africa as evident from its current population growth rates. Sub-Saharan

Africa’s population is growing at 2.7% a year, which is more than twice as fast as South Asia

(1.2%) and Latin America (0.9%), much of the growth is already baked into what demographers term “population momentum”—that is, Africa has so many women of childbearing age that even if most of them have decided to have fewer babies today, the population would keep expanding. If it continues at its current growth rate, Africa’s population will double by 2050. That would be 2.5bn people, meaning more than a quarter of the world’s people would be found in Africa. 

But the issue of population is not simply an issue about numbers, it is about human welfare and development. Rapid population growth can have serious consequences for the well-being of humanity worldwide. If development entails the improvement in people's level of living - their incomes, health, education, and general well-being - and if it also encompasses their self-esteem, respect, dignity, and freedom of choice then the most important question about population growth is how does the contemporary population situation in many African countries contribute to or detract from their chances of realizing the goals of development, not only for the current generation but also for the future generations? Conversely, how does development affect population growth? In many cases, extremely rapid population growth is set to compound poverty and lack of economic opportunities. Many African governments do not currently invest adequately in human capital (education and training) and struggle to create jobs for a growing workforce. Unsustainable population growth can have serious consequences for the well-being of humanity and to greater extent sustainability of families. 

The AACC is concerned about an unsustainable population from our experiences in Africa, from its General Assembly of 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, it made population matters a moral and development agenda for the ecclesial community of Africa. Therefore, it is expedient for churches and other faith (religious) communities to intentionally engage in active conversations around population dynamics and its related complexities.


The population of Africa is expected to roughly double by 2050. This will add 1.2 billion people to Africa’s 2019 population of 1.3 billion people, which in the unanimous view of AfDB Governors during one of their meetings said “Africa's population explosion is a ticking time bomb”. These levels of population growth rates continue to pose lingering challenges to development efforts on the continent hence it’s important to know what’s driving population growth on the continent, and what can be done to slow the trend.

The AACC commissioned a survey on population growth in four selected countries namely Zambia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, analysis of population growth trends learned that population growth rates between 1960 and 2000 were irregular. In 2015 for instance, Tanzania, Zambia, and Nigeria have experienced an increasing population growth rate of

3.05, 3.11, and 2.68 percent from 2.47, 2.68, and 2.5 percent in 2000 respectively. While

Ethiopia had experienced a declining population growth rate from 2.88 percent in 2000 to 2.79 percent in 2015. A large proportion of this population is projected to increase in rural areas except for Nigeria where the urban population outpaces rural population growth rates. The next three decades from 2020 to 2050, are projected to have a declining trend, population growth rates in Tanzania, Zambia, and Nigeria are however expected to be high than 2.0 percent unlike that of Ethiopia and the world which are projected to be below 2.0 and 1.0 percent respectively.

As religious leaders and gatekeepers within the African custodial system, we will have to evolve ways to hold both tensions of population increase as a challenge and demographic dividend. How can we contribute to the whole discourse of sustainable family for sustainable development in the continent? The AACC cognizant of how rapid population growth can have a profound effect on the wellbeing and dignity of the bulk of the African population in most African countries intends to engage the churches and faith organizations in the continent to take proactive roles in advocating for actions that promote sustainable family and population growth. This will harness the opportunities of population dynamics, promote sustainable development, and ensure life with dignity for all people.

Main Objective 

To create a viable space to engage the church leadership in the East and Horn of Africa on population growth status, dynamics, and complexities in the region and recommend ways that faith actors will proactively advocate and deepen a sustainable family culture for sustainable population human wellbeing.

Expected outcome

  1. Increased awareness and knowledge of population facts
  2. Awareness of population policies and renewed conversations on existing population policies
  • Church leadership as champions of sustainable family sizes

Target Participants

The expected participants include; church leaders, women and youth leadership, Diakonia and development coordinators, representative of the PLWD network, and representatives of Councils within the region.

Scheduled dates and venue

Participants are expected to arrive on the 30th of May, depart on the 3rd of June 2022, and have 3 days of capacity-building sessions. 

The venue will soon be determined but it will be located in Arusha, Tanzania. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania will serve as the host.

Methodological approach

The capacity strengthening sessions will feature: 

  • Biblical and theological reflections on population and human wellbeing
  • Presentations on key thematic areas:
  1. Presentation on population dynamics and its complexities in the East and

Horn of Africa region ii. Population policies in the region and how to advocate for policy change iii. Plenary discussion on population policies

  1. Designing messages on sustainable families for sustainable population and development
  2. Group discussions and reporting
  3. Harvesting of inputs (suggestions/recommendations) – plenary presentations