In 1650, according to Countryaah.com, Africa welcomed 100 million inhabitants. which became 120 at the beginning of the twentieth century. This very low increase was due to various factors: the static nature of the traditional African economy, the high mortality, tribal wars; Slavery has also had a great impact on the demographic developments of Africa, the effects of which can be easily assessed if one considers that in the space of three or four centuries they were removed from the continent. 10 million people, by the way often the best individuals in the raided areas. Starting from the end of the century. XIX, however, the abolition of slavery, the improvement of hygienic and sanitary conditions and consequently the decrease in the mortality rate led to the prodigious increase in the population, increased about 9 times over the last century. Immigration from other continents, especially European penetration, has always played a negligible part in this increase. In southern Africa itself, the land most favorable to white settlement, and occupied first by the Boers and then by the British, the European element has always been a minority. Colonialism was responsible for the immigration of Indian and Asian populations in general aroused, towards the eastern coasts, by the requests for manpower in plantation and railway works. There is no shortage of mestizo populations, derived from unions between different groups of immigrants and between them and blacks, numerous especially in the Cape Province (Cape colors). The “Levantine” group is also not negligible: Greeks, Syrians and Lebanese, who trade in the main centers. Groups of French, English, Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese still live and work in the former colonial territories. The demographic picture of Africa however remains characterized by indicators considered typical of underdevelopment: high birth rate, with very high infant mortality; clear gap between the rate of population growth and domestic product growth.
According to UN estimates, in 2010 the African population would be around one billion inhabitants overall, with an increasingly unbalanced distribution due to both the differentials in the growth rates and the persistent phenomenon of urbanization. It should also be said that the demographic calculation cannot always be considered reliable in a continent where census surveys of individual countries continue to be carried out with scarce regularity and frequency, and in certainly precarious conditions; to this is added the difficulty of taking into account the effects of both natural disasters, such as drought crises, and geopolitical events, such as civil wars, and it is precisely these events that mark the demographic trend of the continent together with the dramatic spread of the ‘AIDS, which has its greatest spread in Africa. The disease appears, in fact, as a phenomenon of absolute gravity, especially in the central-southern part of the continent, capable of modifying the same demographic rates. In the most affected countries as a whole, Botswana, for example, has gone from 61 to 47 years). Due to AIDS, mortality rates have risen and overall demographic growth has slowed sharply, so much so that it is estimated that the population of Africa in the mid-century XXI will be at least 150 million fewer individuals than it would have been in the absence of the infection. With birth rates that still exceed, in many cases, 35-40 ‰, over a third of the population is under 15 years of age (this percentage is close to 50% in the case of countries such as Niger, Mali or Malawi), despite the dramatic incidence of infant mortality, which remains the highest in the world, in many cases above 80-100 ‰. And if, therefore, almost one in ten children, on average, does not reach the first year of life, due to malnutrition and disease, the others, especially in black Africa, have levels of living and education that do not unfortunately, they are a prelude to a future development of the continent’s great potential. Considering, then, that the growth of the urban population (about 40% of the inhabitants of the continent live in the cities) clearly exceeds the general one, even if already so high, it is understandable that the average density value has no meaning, and not only for the presence of huge areas – desert and forest areas – repulsive to settlement. L’ African urbanism remains a factor not of development, but of imbalance, as the city does not represent, as in other contexts, the place of innovation and the center of diffusion of services, but only a human agglomeration in which the indiscriminate advent of external consumption patterns determines a strong degree of dependence, above all food. The increase in the demographic load is constant and, in the absence of the diffusion of new agricultural technologies, if not in limited areas, it determines either further irrational consumption of land or, conversely, migratory flows towards urban areas, so that, in many parts of the continent, the cultivable area has shrunk to less than 50% and the number of the “landless” has greatly increased.