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The cost of Nigeria's population boom

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 01:37

Nigeria is planning its biggest ever capital spending spree to help it weather low oil prices. But as Sonia Legg reports, exploding population growth is likely to overwhelm any new infrastructure just as soon as it is built.

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It's already home to 23 million people and Lagos is getting bigger Every day several thousand new residents arrive - some to find work - others a little more naturally. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OSHEME ANTOINE, LAGOS RESIDENT, SAYING: "I want to have about six children. Yeah because I am capable of taking good care of them." Nigeria is growing by 3.2 percent every year, the highest rate in Africa. That means the population could more than double to 400 million by 2050. That's a big challenge for a government elected on a promise to tackle poverty It also puts the President's record $30 billion budget into perspective. Lagos alone reckons it needs $50 billion for infrastructure over the next five years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LAGOS STATE COMMISSIONER FOR BUDGET AND PLANNING, ASHADE JEREMIAH, SAYING: "We need to really explore more the public private partnership. We also need to increase our revenue base, bring more people to the tax net so we can even have more funds." It's estimated Nigeria's economy would need to grow at double-digit rates for years to provide jobs. It's currently less than three percent. And that plays into the hands of militant groups like Boko Haram. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OSARETIN ADONRI, ASSISTANT REPRESENTATIVE, UNITED NATIONS POPULATIONS FUND, SAYING: "We have a pool of young persons that are probably not very educated, and those who are educated do not have jobs to do, and so they become a ready army for the kind of insurgencies and disturbances we are seeing in parts of the country." Another alternative is emigration. And there's already evidence of an overflow - the number of Nigerians seeking asylum in the EU last year tripled.

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The cost of Nigeria's population boom

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 01:37