Sub-Saharan Africa consists of 46 countries and covers an area of 9.4 million square miles. One out of seven people on earth live in Africa and the continent’s share of the world’s population is bound to increase, because Africa’s fertility rate remains higher than elsewhere. If current trends continue, there will be more people in Nigeria than in the United States by 2050. What happens in Africa, therefore, is important not only to the people who live on the continent, but also to the rest of us.
Africa may be the world’s poorest continent, but it is no longer a “hopeless continent,” as The Economist magazine described it back in 2000. Since the start of the new millennium, Africa’s average per capita income adjusted for inflation and purchasing power parity rose by more than 50 percent and Africa’s growth rate has averaged almost 5 percent per year.

Increasing wealth has led to improvements in key indicators of human wellbeing. In 1999, 58 percent of Africans lived on less than $1.90 per person per day. By 2011, 44 percent of Africans lived on that income – all while the African population rose from 650 million to 1 billion. If the current trends continue, Africa’s absolute poverty rate will fall to 24 percent by 2030.
Life expectancy rose from 54 years in 2000 to 62 years in 2015. Infant mortality declined from 80 deaths per 1,000 live births to 49 deaths over the same time period. When it comes to HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, occurrence, detection, treatment and survival rates have all improved. Food supply exceeds 2,500 calories per person per day (U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends consumption of 2,000 calories) and famines have disappeared outside of warzones. Primary, secondary and tertiary school enrollments have never been higher.