In Africa, they’re getting older too

November 17, 2011

In France, they protested about rising retirement ages.  Across the globe in China, the country’s ageing population is expected to dent productivity and growth.

But it’s not only in the more prosperous corners of the world that governments are worrying about how to cope with the needs of increasingly older people.

Africa and the Middle East are usually seen as hotbeds for the young, with all the issues that can bring in terms of unemployment, migration and social unrest.

But a report by the African Development Bank today suggests growing old is a problem for Africa too. According to the AfDB:

Africa’s population is ageing, just like in the rest of the world, but the continent’s governments are ill equipped to handle the growing number of older people. The percentage of people aged over 65 in Africa has grown to 3.6 percent in 2010 from 3.3 percent in 2000. It is a long-term phenomenon, having steadily grown over the last 40 years, and it will accelerate in coming years.

Better life expectancy is causing the change, but most African governments are spending too little on healthcare, the AfDB says. And while pension funds in the developed world are scrabbling around to secure high enough returns to pay out to pensioners, many older Africans do not have a pension.

No wonder African investors, particularly private equity firms, see some of the biggest growth in the continent in healthcare and financial services.




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