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The poverty of abundant energy in Africa: Is achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 a reality?

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Energy use has become a new world order in today’s development. It is the life support for every nation. Centuries ago, most traditional societies depended on one form of energy for survival. It is the source of power that drives industries, provides light for one to see, heat for cooking, a source of cooling to preserve items and has many more uses that can ease livelihoods of people and provide some means of comfort. Even though people from developing regions such as Africa make use of energy, they experience energy poverty. Energy poverty refers to the inability of households to meet their energy cost. The term has traditionally been used to refer to household energy use such as cooking and heating, but now new studies also include energy use by small-scale businesses. 

Energy poverty is conceptualized based on two factors, one is the use of income to assess the energy consumption patterns of poor households. The second is that the poor population lack access to energy to meet their livelihood options. There are similarities in the two ideologies since having the income, one can afford the energy required thereby having access to the energy. Poverty in this context implies the lack of or the absence of something or it is inadequate to suffice one’s needs and unable to use, although the resource is available. Many people in Africa, particularly in the sub-Saharan region, experience a high rate of poverty. 

Renewable energy resources on the continent include coal, peat, oil, natural gas, nuclear. Types of renewable energy include bioenergy, hydropower, geothermal, wind, tides, and wave (hydrokinetic), and solar. Africa continues to discover more of such resources. For instance, countries such as Tanzania, Mozambique, Egypt, Mauritania, Senegal, and South Africa have discovered natural gas accounting for about 40% of the world’s gas discoveries from 2011 to 2018. With the abundance of natural resources, energy poverty poses a serious challenge to Africa – especially sub-Saharan Africa.

A study by Oxfam found that about 633 million people could not access electricity in 2014 whilst 792 million people make use of traditional biomass as their main source of energy – particularly for cooking. The sub-Saharan region remains home to the highest number of countries that make use of low electricity. The European Commission declare that there are about 800 million people in the world who lack access to electricity. Out of this number, about 600 million are in sub-Saharan Africa

From our definition of energy poverty, which is a lack of access and unable to afford the energy to meet basic needs, it can be argued that people in Africa have access to biomass which is also affordable and for that matter is used by most households. The case of energy poverty can therefore be made for electricity and other energy sources that are not accessible and above the means of poor households. It has been reported that the average person in sub-Saharan Africa uses as low as 200kWh/year as compared with 1,442kWh and 4,148kWh in North Africa and South Africa respectively. If poor households can find wood and charcoal easily and can afford that to meet their needs, then biomass would be used in abundance. 

The over-dependence on biomass as household energy has implications on the environment and the health of poor households. The burning of fuelwood does not only release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere increasing the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) but poses a health hazard to those inhaling the smoke. Furthermore, there are certain needs that the use of charcoal and fuelwood cannot meet at the household levels. Oxfam posit that the number of people in sub-Saharan Africa who will be forced to used biomass is expected to reach 823 million by 2030. It has been estimated that about 600,000 people lose their lives as a result of pollution from the use of traditional biomass. Most often, women and girls in Africa are those who make use of household energy and therefore stand at risk. This is quite alarming and requires critical attention.

In a continent with such an abundance of energy resources, why should people lack access to energy? Because energy is critical in attaining sustainable livelihoods. Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGD) set out by the UN, Goal 7 calls on nation-states to ensure that people have “access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable modern energy for all” by 2030. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA)  opines that Africa holds the key ingredients to the world’s energy transition since it has major mineral resources for clean energy and the richest solar resources on the planet. It is important to note that the abundance of energy is one thing and the ability to convert the energy into a finite product for consumption is another. African countries are unable to convert the abundance of energy for consumption because of human and economic resources. The technology required to transform the energy resources, develop the physical infrastructure, and the money required to engage in such transformation serve as barriers to Africa’s energy transformation. Making not just energy but modern energy accessible and affordable to the African population requires crucial and deliberate interventions by African governments, to commit to providing the energy needs of the people. Most often, these energy resources are sold to foreign companies to produce who also come with their terms and conditions often at the detriment of African countries. Further, because African countries do not have adequate human capacities with the requisite technology to operate on these resources, they comply to these terms. This turns out to deepen their woes since these energy resources are exploited but few people benefit from them. It has been estimated that despite the rich solar resources of Africa, just about five gigawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) have been installed, representing less than 1% of the world’s capacity.

It is important to understand that, the idea of energy poverty targets the poor since they are those who are unable to afford the energy or have no access to it. Therefore, to reduce energy poverty in Africa and progress the attainment of the SDG 7, it is germane for African governments to enact and pursue the right policies that focus on helping the African poor to access modern energy. Combating energy poverty in Africa particularly sub-Saharan Africa requires government commitment since they hold the power to enacting policies that could bring about transformation in the energy sector.

African governments must make budgetary provisions to provide clean energy for the African poor. They should sponsor its citizens to undergo training and capacity building in the production of clean energy. Where resources are sold to foreign companies, necessary provisions should be made for local participation and technology transfer to the local citizens so that they can also train others to manage the modern energy needs of the continent. There is a need to provide energy subsidies for the poor. When subsidies are generalized, the rich tend to benefit more. Governments should partner with private investors with social entrepreneurial objectives so that they can support energy provision to poorer households. Only then, can the SDG7 be achieved. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Chlorine Gas Leak in Jordan Port City Kills Thirteen People

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Port Of Aqaba City
  • A gas leak in Aqaba, Jordan killed at least thirteen people and injured more than 250. A storage container carrying between 25 and 30 tonnes of chlorine gas fell as it was being exported to Djibouti, releasing the gas.
  • A video of the incident on state TV shows the container being dropped onto the deck of the ship and a yellow colored gas spreading through the air as people try to evacuate. The accident seems to be a result of the crane malfunctioning.
  • If chlorine is inhaled at high levels, it can cause life-threatening damage. A nearby beach in Aqaba was evacuated as a safety precaution, and residents who live in the nearest residential area, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) away, were advised to stay inside and close windows.
  • Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh traveled to Aqaba and visited some of the injured at the hospital. He also formed a team led by the interior minister to investigate the incident.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Entertainment

Ms. Marvel: Helping Muslim representation or just mere tokenism?

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While relatable, Ms. Marvel’s Muslim identity is displayed as a hindrance to her teenage aspirations rather than as a way of empowering her. The writers seem out of touch with the growing faithfulness of Muslim teens.

Two episodes of Disney’s new series, Ms. Marvel,” starring Iman Vellani, have graced our TV screens. The sassy teen superhero with a Pakistani-Muslim background has made headlines for many reasons, not the least of which is that, for the first time, Muslim teen Marvel fans have someone who can represent them; someone who looks like the person staring back at them in the mirror every day, and with whom they can identify in their daily struggles and way of life. Or do they?

Does tokenism reflect the obligation of Islamic Faith?

Tokenism has always been an easy way forward for multi-million dollar companies trying to appeal to a wider audience. In recent years, Disney hasn’t shied away from engaging in the practise to attract viewership.  But the problem with tokenism is that it is something whereby the struggles of minorities – who are often marginalised by society – are trivialised and caricaturised for financial gain, while those who carry out such portrayals fail to compensate or help the minorities in question.

The very first scene in the first episode of Ms. Marvel is such a case in point. It begins with the teen protagonist, Kamala’s family, wishing her luck on her driving test in the morning. The audience gets a first glimpse of what a Pakistani Muslim family’s typical interaction looks like. According to Disney: Kamala’s brother, a tall man with a dark beard and glasses, attired in the traditional Pakistani dress of Shalwar-Kameez, is too preoccupied with his prayers, apparently having forgotten his surroundings and time, to which his father ironically suggests that he might “starve to death” should he keep on praying for longer. The son’s rather earnest – sounding response “May Allah forgive you one day,” conveys the sombre, traditionally religious Muslim, at odds with his bubblier, modern and westernised family. Thus, the very first scene seems to subtly impart the notion that to fit into society, and in fact, function as a normal human being, one must abandon seemingly cumbersome and outdated practises like ‘praying’ – and those like her brother, who are so ostentatiously Muslim, are the only ones who really follow such basic tenets of the Islamic faith.

Norms of one’s faith versus cultural ideals

As the episode advances, interactions with her parents where certain boundaries set by her religious upbringing become apparent. Kamala tries to convince her parents to let her go to the “AvengerCon” – a comic and cosplay convention dedicated to the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Her parents’ instant concerns about Kamala’s wearing a “skin-tight” suit for her cosplay, meeting “strange boys” and “going to a party” do partially translate to a predominantly Muslim household, where living by certain moral values and rules is of great importance, and while they are certainly relatable to everybody who is familiar with Islamic teachings, it was perplexing that it was portrayed as something that Kamala was obliged to do by her parents rather than something she herself felt as a Muslim. After all, what is the point of trying to tout a show as an example of Muslim representation when the main protagonist is shown to be hindered by that very identity?

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Kamala Khan wearing tradition clothing

Kamal ends up going to the convention after rejecting her parents’ cringeworthy suggestion that her father dress up as a ‘big’ hulk – which he does as a demonstration- and she as a ‘little hulk’ and they go together. As a hijab wearing Muslim woman, I can say that a comic convention is the last thing my parents would object to. Somehow, the writers seem to be confused with the balance between liberality and conservatism in those who practise the Muslim faith and not just those born into Pakistani-Muslim backgrounds.

Honest Conversations

That’s not to say that it’s all negative. In the second episode, more of Kamala’s Muslim identity is showcased positively as a conversation between her and her Hijab wearing best friend Nakia has  a heart -to- heart conversation in the school’s bathroom when Kamala just expresses how out of place she feels with the rapid changes taking place in her life, saying      she can “barely keep up.” This is where Nakia responds with “Are you kidding?” Between the hijab and the girlies my parents can barely make eye contact with me anymore,” she says, implying that her environment (including her family) is also challenging her identity and belief system by putting her in an insecure position. When Kamala, impressed by Nakia’s steadfastness, asks her how she makes things “look so easy” Nakia responds in an honest and heartfelt way and opens up a meaningful conversation, allowing the audience to dive deeper into the complexity and beauty of defending a Muslim identity in a western world:

“My whole life I’ve been either too white for some people or too ethnic for others. And it’s been this very uncomfortable, sucky in-between. So, when I first put this on, I was hoping to shut some people up (referring to hijab), but I kinda realized I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. Like, when I put this on, I feel like me. Like I have a purpose. It’s probably why I ran for the Mosque Board. And remember, you’re the one who convinced me to do it in the first place.”

Ms Marvel
Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel with Nakia Bahadir

That’s something that maybe the show did right; showing the struggle faced by those Muslim teens who are growing in their faith – a phenomenon that began its slow rise after 9/11 and the discrimination that so many Muslims face in the United States and West in general – without the faith of their parents being a factor.

Lack of Muslim Representation in its entirety?

Although it is a coming of age storyline, and many Muslim teens may indeed identify with the cultural struggles between East and West, between how their classmates expect them to conduct themselves versus their parents, there is some disparity in the portrayals of the Islamic faith and its positive influence on a teenager’s lifestyle. Many comedic moments take place that showcase the culture of Pakistani immigrants to the United States, and it seems that this is then passed off as religion rather than what it really is; a clash of cultures. What if Kamala wore the hijab like her best friend, and had chosen to wear it? Would that be too much for viewers to handle, too much religiousness in a character who is to become the hero of the story? Does it empower and normalise the hijab too much for Western audiences who have been conditioned to reject this part of the faith as medieval?

Having Kamala, a Muslim teenage girl, as Ms. Marvel is a crucial step in overcoming stereotypes and affirming the large demographic of Muslims in the United States and the Western world in general. However, one wonders how much of her Muslim identity can be seen as a representation for the majority of Muslim girls around the world and how much of it stems from clichés, seemingly included to make up for the inaccuracy of Muslim life in key parts of the story. However, there is still some way to go; this season is set to have six episodes in total.

So far, it’s been a nice try from Marvel, but, it seems that somehow, there is still an empty space for a female Muslim superhero whose religion, rather than culture, is embraced as the source of her empowerment, while at the same time her role as a well – rounded member of American society is realised.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Exclusive: John Pilger claims Julian Assange extradition is bad news for “truth-tellers”

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We spoke to veteran investigative journalist and documentarian John Pilger about what he thought Assange’s looming extradition meant for the state of the press in the UK, and the fate investigative journalists like him

Julian Assange –  the investigative journalist and whistleblower spent the last ten years fighting for freedom after having leaked secret documents regarding US human rights abuses. Most of those years were spent holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain where he was granted asylum by the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa in 2012. 

That asylum ended seven years later when Correa’s replacement, Lenin Moreno handed him over to the British authorities. On the morning of April 11th, 2019, Assange was dragged out of the embassy by British police in a brutal show of force, and taken to be locked up in Belmarsh prison, the detention centre known as the British Guantanamo Bay. He has remained there since.

Last week, Assange’s decade long battle was dealt a blow. British Home Secretary Priti Patel signed Assange’s extradition order to the United States, where he faces 18 federal counts of espionage for publishing secret state documents handed to him by the former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning; documents which exposed the atrocities, human rights abuses and war crimes committed by The United States, its allies, and their forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. 

Besides this, the documents showed the systematic human rights abuses and torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the controversial U.S Prison located in Cuba that held more than 150 prisoners, who were innocent without charge for years. And most of all, they confirmed that the pretext for the U.S led invasion of Iraq was a farce.

But in a country that lauds itself on its free press, especially when holding up its democratic values against its autocratic Middle-Eastern counterparts, what happens when a journalist exercises his right within the free press and is castigated the way Assange has been and for as long as he has?

“There is no free press as we might imagine or mythologise it. A powerful, almost unconscious self-censorship routinely dominates the media, much of it run or influenced by an augmented extremism called Murdochism. Added to this are draconian laws that constrain our right to know and which allow the ‘intelligence services’ (known in the US as the ‘deep state’) to manipulate the press. Little of this is discussed publicly.”

According to Pilger, it was Julian Assange who “broke down this wall of censorship, on the public’s behalf.” It is no surprise then, that the whistleblower, Manning was pardoned by the US after seven years in prison, while the publisher could face confinement for the rest of his life. Currently, Assange faces up to ten years in prison for each federal count against him. But Assange is an Australian national, and just recently the former foreign minister of Australia, Bobb Carr, wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald that he believed that the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, should request the Biden administration for Assange’s freedom.

Pilger affirms that the Australian government should support their citizen, but that “rights and reality live in two different worlds. We should unite them!” 

Despite Carr’s suggestion, Australian Prime Minister publicly affirmed he stood by his previous remarks that Assange had “paid a big price for the publication of the information already” and that “I do not see what purpose is served by the ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange,”  but that he would not publicly ask Biden for a pardon for Assange. Speaking to the broadcaster Sky News, he said “We’re not going to conduct diplomacy by megaphone.” 

But what is it that makes such prominent world leaders so reluctant to directly support the plight of Assange?  For some it is the fact that he published secret state documents through his whistleblower site, Wikileaks. Was this really a violation of the official secret act, as has been alleged, or does the right of the public to know what governments are doing abroad with taxpayers money negate this? Is the country not put at risk when state secrets are made public?

“Wikileaks revealed grave state crimes,” he says, “The law should apply to governments as well as to individuals. Nazi leaders and officials were prosecuted and punished at the end of World War Two because they committed state crimes. The principle is the same.”

If Julian Assange’s team fails in its attempts to appeal and he is sent to the US, what will that entail for him? And what implications will it have on future whistleblowers and investigative journalists?

John Pilger is blunt. “For Julian it will be the end of his life. For truth-tellers, it will mean even greater risk than at present. The shadows of state control will spread until we call, ‘’stop.’

In fact, the veteran journalist is no stranger to censorship of his own work either. In 2014 his regular column for the oft-touted ‘independent’ paper the Guardian was axed, according to Pilger, “Without explanation.”

“I wrote a fortnightly piece for the Guardian which was axed in 2014 with the specious explanation that the paper ‘needed greater variety’: some such nonsense. There were (and are) warring political factions on the Guardian and under a new editor a virulent right-wing took control. At that time, I was writing about the Western-sponsored coup in Ukraine, which had just happened, and the war it beckoned.”

It is a grim state of affairs to which the future of journalism seems to be hurtling towards, painted darker by recent events. What hope does that leave to budding journalists who would wish to pursue a career like that of Pilger’s and other investigative journalists and whistleblowers, like Assange, who in their fearlessness can speak truth and expose the crimes and excesses of those in power? How can the fear of reprisal by the authorities be abated?“Keep going. Be resolute and follow your star. The times are difficult, but there are more independent outlets,online, than when I began. Try and stay away from the mis-named ‘mainstream’ which used to have space for independent minded journalists, but no more. Journalism is a wonderful craft: how it is practised and honoured is up to you.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

World Food Programme suspends food assistance to 1.7 million in South Sudan

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Conflict combined with poor weather in South Sudan has led to 7.74 million people facing a hunger crisis.

Despite the country facing food insecurity, the World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended food assistance to 1.7 million people in South Sudan. They require $426 million to be able to feed 6 million people in South Sudan throughout 2022. At the start of 2022, the WFP projected that it would be able to assist 6.2 million people in the country but has failed at achieving this target. This suspension of funding comes at one of the worst times for South Sudan, a newly independent country which not only has been facing internal conflicts for many years but also faced three years of flooding, a localised drought and like the rest of the world, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring global food prices. Therefore, not only is food not available in the country, but it also comes at a much higher price making the country food insecure. This cut also comes at a time where South Sudan is facing lean season, which is the season between planting crops and harvesting them. During this season, food is already scarce.

The suspension of aid by the WFP is due to a funding shortage of $426 million. It is important to note that the primary source of WFP’s funding comes from governments around the world. This funding is entirely voluntary, meaning that the countries have the freedom to cut anytime they wish.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a human rights group recently ruled that the world’s 10 most neglected crises are all in Africa with South Sudan being the 4th most neglected crisis. The Secretary General of the NRC, Jan Egeland said “The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the immense gap between what is possible when the international community rallies behind a crisis, and the daily reality for millions of people suffering in silence within these crises on the African continent that the world has chosen to ignore,”

The hunger crisis the people of South Sudan face is not new, rather food insecurity has been a challenge for years now. In 2017, South Sudan faced a famine and now another famine is predicted by the WFP this year if funding is not organised. Furthermore, South Sudan has recently been facing unrest which has only intensified the issue, leading to brutal violence upon civilians, including targeted attacks, gender-based violence, kidnappings and murders. This has led to nearly 2.3 million people fleeing to neighbouring countries whilst 1.87 million people remain internally displaced. Displacement continues to exacerbate the hunger crisis in South Sudan as many rely on food from their own land, something which is not possible during displacement. Internal conflict has thus meant that people have had to rely heavily on food assistance.

There have been many attempts for a peace agreement in the country, but so far, all these attempts have failed.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Is Rwanda a dumping ground for the UK?

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The UK is planning to send its illegal immigrants to Rwanda. In return, the country is paying the Government £120 million in the form of an economic development program. This controversial decision was made to deter any future illegal immigrants from entering the country via dangerous routes.

The East African country suffered genocide and civil war in 1994 and has been trying to recover since. The effort made by the country, however, was halted due to the pandemic.

Only recently, authorities in Rwanda prosecuted opposition members, commentators, and journalists for voicing their opinion. Anyone who doesn’t agree with the government is thrown in jail and threatened, and people have even mysteriously disappeared.

However President Kagame defended his country’s human rights track record: “As far as values are concerned, we don’t need any lessons from BBC or from anyone” adding that no one has better values than Rwanda. He went on to say: “There is nobody in Rwanda who is in prison that should not be there, because we have a justice system that is actually functional, and fair.” 

Rwanda is also one of the smallest countries in the world and the rate of population growth is already more than the country can handle. With 10,000 square miles and a population density of more than 1,000 per square mile, starvation and malnutrition is prevalent because the country struggles to feed its growing population. Accusations abound that the government has burned farmers’ fields that could not produce an adequate amount of crops. The country is obsessed with modernising whilst ignoring its internal issues.

Poverty is a huge concern. Its true extent is unknown as the government has been accused of misinterpreting the actual data. Similarly, the education level of children is low with a high drop-out rate.

Rwanda is struggling with its own domestic problems, and now the UK is seen to be turning the country into a dumping ground for illegal immigrants which could possibly set the economy back. The plan has been accused of being unethical and cruel.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Siobhán Mullally talked about the dangers of increased human trafficking when large numbers of people are transferred from one country to another and how easy it is for traffickers to pick vulnerable victims in this situation when they have no control over where they are going. “People seeking international protection, fleeing conflict, and persecution, have the right to seek and enjoy asylum – a fundamental tenet of international human rights and refugee law,” she said. Even Prince Charles, heir to the British throne criticised the decision made by the government calling it “appalling”.

There have also been accusations that the UK is not playing its part in its handling of its refugee problem. Chief Executive of Refugee Action, Tim Naor Hilton said that the government was “offshoring its responsibilities onto Europe’s former colonies instead of doing our fair share to help some of the most vulnerable people on the planet”.

Meanwhile, UK-based non-profits run by Congolese nationals in the Diaspora sent a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in which they expressed their fear that the money sent by the UK government could be used to propagate the war in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo instead of improving Rwanda.

According to Phil Clark, Professor of International Politics at SOAS University of London, the government of Rwanda could use this deal as leverage. So whenever the government is accused of human rights violations they can threaten to pull out of the deal. Already once, the country has “threatened to pull its peacekeepers out of Darfur when foreign donors were threatening to pull foreign aid out of Rwanda.”

Whilst the focus is on Rwanda violating human rights, the country is known however, for looking after its refugees well enough. The problem is that the UK is using the country to shed itself of its own responsibility while Rwanda is not equipped to deal with a large number of refugees.

Numerous British celebrities, such as, Olivia Coleman, David Harewood, Robert Rinder, Emma Thompson, Sophie Okonedo, Lemn Sissay and Benjamin Zephaniah have taken a definitive stance with an open letter sent from Together with Refugees, which states: “The prospect of being transported to Rwanda, and African countries like it, is enough to put off even the most desperate people fleeing war and persecution from coming to the UK.

“This tells us much about the British government’s colonial and insulting view of Africa, as a place that is no better than a dumping ground for things – in this case people – it considers a problem.” 

The irony of the situation cannot be lost to global observers as one commentator wrote: “Only a couple of hundred years ago, the situation was reversed. Ships full of Africans were being forcefully deported from their homeland to Britain, Europe, and the Americas. Now, the descendants of slave traders are paying the descendants of their would-be slaves to take a burden off their hands.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Environment

The world is ageing at a rapid pace and there will be consequences

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World and Aging Hands

There are more old people in the world than there are young people. Both developed and developing countries have to be ready to take the huge burden of the rising population of older people.

According to 2019 data from the UN, the proportion of people aged 60 and over will be 1 in 6 by the year 2050. However, a more recent observation by the WHO shows that the world might reach these statistics much sooner; that is, by 2030. And by 2050, the population of over 60 will double to almost 2.1 billion people.

This demographic change has already occurred in some developed countries. In Japan, the median age is 48 years old, and this makes Japan’s population the oldest in the world. By 2060, there will be one elderly person for each person of working age.

Similarly, there are already more people aged 60 and over in Europe and North America than young people under the age of 15. Germany is another example. It is predicted that by 2050 the population of the income-generating population will fall from 55 million to less than 40 million.

The change is greatest in developed countries because of low mortality rates as well as low fertility rates. This means new children are not being born while the healthcare of the country is improving, so people and children live longer.

The data for the population of the world in 2020 already shows that the population aged 65 and older is 727 million, whereas the population under 5 is 677 million.

There are many consequences of this change. The biggest is the increase in the dependent population, which will affect the economy of the country. Most people over the age of 60 are retired, so they depend on pensions while the younger income-generating population is responsible for providing the money through taxes. The taxes will need to increase to meet the demands of the older generation. Not only that, the government has to spend more money on the older generation who don’t earn on their own rather than invest in developing the country.

There will also be a rise in chronic illnesses which will affect the allocation of healthcare facilities as right now there is more focus on infectious diseases. Since there will be an increase in the older generation, there will be even less informal care from the remaining younger family members. Elderly abuse is already an issue, but there will be a rise in this form of abuse as well.

Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said, “There will be very few children and lots of people over the age of 65, and that makes it very difficult to sustain global society.”

Adding, “Think of all the profound social and economic consequences for a society with more grandparents than grandchildren.”

For many reasons, in America, most women are staying child-free or having children later in life. The biggest reason is the expense required to raise children. Since 2007, the birth rate for women in their 20s has fallen by 28%, shows data.

Similarly, in England and Wales, the percentage of women in their 30s without children rose from 18% in 1975 to 50% in 2020.

Unless more work is done to replace the population and prevent population shrinkage by encouraging people to have more children, the economies of many countries need to prepare for a boost from the older population.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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