Population et Développement en Afrique : Indicateurs essentiels (Comprendre les évolutions en cours)
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La révolution des données : l′Afrique doit s′en saisir pour accélérer son développement socioéconomique !

Population et Développement en Afrique : Indicateurs essentiels (Comprendre les évolutions en cours) Afrique PODEV-IN is a platform for research and vulgarization on Population and Development Issues in Africa. The first environment now is essentially in French, but the website is doomed to be bilingual: French and English. Therefore, translation of all pages will start soon!

Non-expert description of the project

Rapidly changing global realities whatever sector we refer to mainly lies on human action/inaction. Population is then a problem but at the same time a solution! Policy makers and stakeholder need to know all patterns of population dynamics. Many institutions, national and international, issue demographic and economic data. However, on daily basis and at local level, their access and use is not quite easy. In fact, understanding what means the statement ‘Cameroon will reach 26,405,064 inhabitants in 2020’ is not obvious. Year 2020 has 12 months. Does this mean that from January to December 2020, Cameroon still records 26,405,064 inhabitants or to which date is the figure related? Usually, this figure is given as a medium option for population projection, but what about high and low options and what parameters govern them, and more specifically how can one, given new insights for a particular parameter, proceed to approach the population figure? This is important since for any social sector considered in its evolution, expected outcomes depend on the population dynamics (number, components, quality etc.). For instance, should we wonder about potable water for all in a given date, all characteristics of the population at that date are required: how many people, what living standard, use of water by different categories (car washers, garden watering, type of water used, etc.). In the equatorial zones, given the today’s deforestation rate and the population dynamics, what could be the situation in 5 or 10 years? If the population and development policies vary what could be the impact on the outcomes at the same dates? Therefore, all our provisions depend on such knowledge. Any policy maker or stakeholder is not in the position to go through books and other publications related to demographic issues, collect, analyze and draw solutions for their inquiries. A recent illustrative example stems from the last municipal ballot in Cameroon. In order to present their provisional framework, candidates in most cases used wrong demographic figures, because the last census was in 2005 and available population projections only gave figures for main divisions but not on subdivisions. In the absence of an institution able to clarify them, they go on for their own estimates without any knowledge. Government offices working on such indicators exist but cannot respond on due time to personnel or small groups preoccupations.

It is then important to contribute to the knowledge of main concepts/definitions as well as elaborating and interpreting indicators able to help measuring the challenges ahead and progress made in social and economic development without necessary being an expert or going through numerous writings and data bases for complex analysis.



Outline of the body of literature or school(s) of thought

There are many websites containing social indicators. The World Bank regularly publishes social and economic indicators for all countries in the World (website and books, see WDI-GDF). Different UN Agencies also have their websites and publications of indicators relative to their fields of work, and most of them are social or have social impacts. The Probabilistic Population Projections series is very useful and gives projections up to year 2100, starting date being 1950! There are many others indicators on human development, governance, etc.. Not only these figures are indicative, but also, they only cover the whole country. There is need for local experts to continually review them, timely update them with new insights and go into details for particular areas or situations in the country. Projects or problems that affect social issues are often regional (deforestation, flood, draught, forest fire, etc.). Another phenomenon should be carefully studied from now: that is terrorism. When terrorism start treating people, development slows down, people may face lost of their productions, stolen inputs may be transformed into tools to kill or destroy useful equipments… A single platform where all these information may be found is very important for all to increase knowledge and take sound decisions concerning our future as far as our social interests are concerned.



Outline of the applicant’s understanding and experience, as well as his motivation

Demography is at the center of all development process. Yet, as a scientific issue, its ins and outs are not mastered by all and everyone has to refer to it in a way or another. In fact, Population and Development is a not separable tandem: development assures living standards of population who is the author of the said development! Climate change comes as the consequence of human action on forest, human modern consumption etc. When this happens, it endangers human life! All other aspects of development may bear positive and negative outcomes on population. Therefore, it should be necessary for stakeholders, politicians and even everyone to access or understand rapidly how demography can impact development, what can be done to reduce inconveniences and more specifically on which pattern one can act and how.

Changes (whether in climate, environment, living standard, social conflict, corruption or inequality) may be at individual, organizational, cultural or systemic levels. Addressing them such that results are socially acceptable and politically feasible yields from a good knowledge of the population concerned. Africa today lacks back whatever socioeconomic indicator is concerned. One of the last mis-achievements expected is the MDGs expected to end this year. Even at the absence of deep assessments of the MDGs, important work is ongoing on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It can be noted that Africa as a whole is not showing great interest for the post-2015 agenda, and it will not be surprised that in this context Africa will still stand behind.

Existing indicators are scattered here and there and stakeholders as well as policy makers often get lost when trying to use them. As an illustration, during the last municipal elections in Cameroon (November 2013), many party representatives gave wrong figure of the population in their division, based on last census that took place in 2005 and their own projection. But, they really know nothing about population projection, especially in a small constituency and there is nowhere they can quickly refer to know what to do, giving that official population projection usually concern large entities (nation, large towns, and province/region) and are not always easily accessible.

No social indicator can stand-alone. Any social factor should only be explained through many parameters whether social, economic, political, environmental, to name a few. Our approach to build a website on population and development indicators in Africa is just an attempt to contribute to offer an open platform on which country, regional and continental socio-indicators can be found easily, with references to harmonized concepts and definitions, given the opportunity to establish comparative studies and forecasts on such social indicators. A collection of publications and writings on the issue will also be uploaded on that platform from which we can get best practices and learn more. It is also a place for debates on emerging issues on social problems at continental or regional level.

By the time Africa still lags back relatively to all development issue, perspectives show that in the years to come, economic development will progress significantly. Natural resources (from the sea, land, forest and underground) will play a major role in that development and stakeholders will come from all over the world. Yet, cautions should be taken to prevent excess in the forth-coming exploitation of Africa’s resources. It is already identified that in many African countries many problems come from bad overall management (especially corruption appraised through indexes of TI, the difficulty to sign EITIE etc.), an urbanization driving a lot of deprivation not only between city dwellers but also between cities and rural areas, social conflicts from different causes…


Countries and regions involved

PODEV-IN is designed to concern all African countries and Africa as a whole. Evidence is that many countries will be accessible with local experts ready to contribute in wrapping up and updating national socioeconomic data. Some countries with difficult access will be included only by referring to international data. Given insights from regional or neighbor countries, some extrapolations could be done if necessary. The website framework already contains all African countries. It is expected that French and English will be the two languages available for browsing. However, at the first step, only one of them will be used. The second language will come afterward.



PODEV-IN is a NGO. Some members still work at the university and intervene as individuals but not involving their institutions. In some countries, we have contacts from different listing (demographers, economists, specialists in various social issues). A call for contribution will also be issued, since once a few countries are populated, the website will be accessed online. Of course it is a progressive project: establishing when possible time series for due indicators, updating them, uploading all related publications, etc.. Young researchers, especially from social sciences at the university will take part in the project, especially when their research may lead to publication.

PODEV-IN is multidisciplary oriented in the sense that many kinds of researchers, stakeholders, policy makers and young students in different branches can rely on it according to their needs. Theoretical part (with concepts and definitions) is useful for all why main indicators refer especially to Africa.

At the first stage, Cameroon platform will be posted, as well as general knowledge on Africa. Furthermore, given forum outcomes and deep research, completion of theoretical aspects will continue, with more uploaded related publications, and contact with specialists in different countries will start in order to update national socioeconomic information. The final platform will contain access to different African countries, regional groupings (NEPAD’s divisions may be considered) and overall Africa as a continent.

International databases usually have an open access and we’ll often refer to them (and quote them), but without saying that we are partners. Also, national offices that collect, process and analyze data will be our partners because we need all those information we cannot collect ourselves. In some cases one has to pay to access collected data. There is no direct relationship with universities although our offices are opened students and the result may lead to academic dissertation or only articles.



Working with partners: opportunities and limits

Given the difficulty to all to understand and appraise the signification/meaning of the indicators chosen to measure various phenomenons, it is important to wrap up their concepts and definitions on a single platform to make sure that everybody speaks of the very same matter/subject. For each country, it is necessary to:

Recall time series of main socioeconomic indicators, using different international databases;

Select experts from different countries to review and regularly update those indicators;

Training of expert how to deal with the website (populating, updating);

Training of the local experts on the main computer programmes for assessing a socioeconomic situation (theoretical framework, main approaches, varieties of situations and choice of models, etc..);

Preparing local expert group to be able to participate in evaluating projects (TOR preparation, situation analysis, data collection and analysis, reporting and mapping, etc..).


We therefore propose a condense platform on which not only all published/unpublished indicators may be found, but also where main concepts and definitions, as well as main procedures for rapid assessment of population and development indicators. For deeper information and necessary details, many links are there to help.


The platform is entitled Population and Development Indicators in Africa (PODEV-IN). At national level, experts should be there to go beyond international estimates (IMF/WB/UN…) by updating as regularly as possible population and development indicators trends, from recent studies in a domain or other, but also to give details at sub-national levels (all localities needing information for planning their development). They will also participate to the global debate on emerging issues in population and development in Africa.

Flash Infos

Demography: the scientific study of population

In its simplest definition, demography is the scientific study of human populations. According to Landry (1945),
the term, demography, was first used by the Belgian statistician, Achille Guillard, in his 1855 publication:
Éléments de statistique humaine, ou démographie comparée. However, John Graunt′s Natural and Political
Observations Mentioned in a Following Index, and Made Upon the Bills of Mortality, published in 1662 in London,
is generally acknowledged to be the first published study in the field of demography.