! FIRST AND FOREMOST ! The World Students Society is the exclusive and eternal ownership of every student of Africa just as it is the eternal and exclusive ownership of every student in the world.

BY 2050 - ONE IN FOUR PEOPLE WILL BE AFRICAN. And that change is already starting to register. As the world at large grays, Africa just blooms with future students and youth.

By 2050, one in 4 people will be African, an awesome seismic change that's already starting to register.  You can hear it in the music the world listens to. You can see it in movies, fashion and politics.

You can sense it in the entrepreneurial drive of young Africans - and the urgent scramble for jobs. You can see it in the waves of youth who risk all to migrate - and in the dilemmas of those who remain.

Astonishing change is underway in Africa, where the population is projected to nearly double to 2.5 billion over the next quarter-century - an era that will not only transform many African countries, experts say but also radically reshape their relationship with the rest of the world.

BIRTHRATES are tumbling in richer nations, creating anxiety about how to care for, and pay for, their ageing societies. But Africa's baby boom continues apace, fueling the youngest, fastest growing population on earth.

In 1950, Africans made up 8 percent of the world's people. A century later, they will account for one -quarter of humanity and at least one-third of all young people ages 15 to 24, according to the United Nations forecasts.

The median age on the African continent is 19. In India the world's most populous country, it is 28. In China and the United States, it is 38.

The implications of this ''youthquake'' as some call it, are immense yet uncertain and likely to vary greatly across Africa, a continent of myriad cultures and some 54 countries that covers an area larger than China, Europe, India and the United States combined. But its first signs are already here.

It reverberates in the bustle and thrum of the continent's ballooning cities. It pulses in the packed stadiums of London or New York, where African musicians are storming the world of pop.

Africa's political reach is growing ttoo. It leaders are courted at flashy summits by foreign powers that cover their reserves of the minerals needed to make electric cars and solar panels.

With a growing choice of eager allies, including Russia, China, the United States, Turkey and Gulf Petrostates, African leaders are spurning the image of victim and demanding a bigger say, in September the African Union joined the Group of 20, the premier forum for international economic cooperation.

In many countries, historically low birthrates are creating older, smaller populations. Africa's challenge is to manage unbridled growth. Within the next decade, Africa will have world's largest work force, surpassing China and India.

By the 2040s, it will account for two out of every five children born on the planet.

Experts say this approaching tide of humanity will push Africa to the fore of the most pressing concerns of our age, like climate change, the energy transition and migration.

But it has exposed the continent's gaping vulnerabilities.

Peril and Potential : Africa's soaring population is partly a result of remarkable progress. Africans eat better and live longer than ever, on average, infant mortality has been halved since 2000; calories intake has soared.

'' But after climate change, Africa's jobs crisis will be a defining challenge of our era.''

It could be that Africa will undergo more and more transformations that are hard to see now.

This year's surging turmoil - new crises, new wars and new economic slumps - would give pause to the greatest of optimists. Yet there are also reasons to hope.

'' I tell my friends in England that the time will come when they will pull out a red carpet for those guys now coming in boats,'' said Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese born telecommunications tycoon and philanthropist.

The World Students Society thanks Declan Walsh.


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