Denmark has pledged to send more funds for “family planning” services to African countries in an effort to address a looming population explosion that could have major implications for migration policy in Europe.
The Danish government has long supported contraceptive assistance on humanitarian grounds, but Minister for Development Co-operation Ulla Tornaes said Tuesday stabilization of population levels in Africa is key to European security, as well.
“Part of the solution to reducing migratory pressures on Europe is to reduce the very high population growth in many African countries,” she said at a family planning summit in London.
Tornaes said Denmark will contribute $14 million in contraceptive support to the United Nations Population Fund and the International Association for Family Planning. She emphasized the groups’ efforts in Africa, saying increasing access to contraception and family planning there was a foreign and security policy priority for the Danish government, reports the BBC.
“If the population growth in Africa continues as now, the African population will double from 1.2 billion people to 2.5 billion people by 2050,” Tornaes said.
Those figures come from the most recent UN world population projections, which predict explosive growth across the continent, particularly in sub-Saharan countries. Even as birth rates decline, the population of the entire African continent will swell to more than 4 billion by the end of the 21st century.
Much of that growth will be concentrated in Africa’s so-called least-developed countries (LDC), which have exceptionally high fertility rates. Niger, for example, currently has a rate of 7.6 live births per woman, the world’s highest. It is one of six African countries projected to have five times as many people in 2100 as today.
Africa’s pending population boom takes on additional significance for Europe in light of the wave of migrants and asylum seekers that have arrived in the continent in recent years. Many European countries have already exhausted their capacity to absorb the flow of immigrants, forcing even centrist, pro-immigration leaders to address the problems posed by continued migration from Africa and Asia.
As French President Emmanuel Macron discovered last week, however, slowing Africa’s population growth remains a sensitive subject. He caused a stir when speaking at a press conference at the G20 Summit in Germany that some of Africa’s “civilizational problems” could be exacerbated by families with “seven to eight children per woman.”
Macron’s remarks drew condemnation from activists and some human rights groups, who said they smacked of Western colonialism and reinforced a “stereotypical picture of African mothers.”
In Denmark — a small, homogeneous nation that prides itself on high levels of social trust and welfare spending — politicians have been more direct about drawing a connection between African population growth and the country’s immigration policies.
In June, the liberal Social Democrat party proposed that migrants and refugees coming to Europe be housed in EU-run camps while they wait to apply for asylum. Social Democrat spokesman Peter Hummelgaard cited African population growth as one of the main reasons why mass migration will continue, reports Foreign Policy.
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