LAGOS, Nigeria — The world’s population is projected to hit an estimated 8 billion people today, according to a United Nations projection, with much of the growth coming from developing nations in Africa.
Among them is Nigeria, where resources are already stretched to the limit. More than 15 million people in Lagos compete for everything from electricity to light their homes to spots on crowded buses, often for two-hour commutes each way in this sprawling megacity. Some Nigerian children set off for school as early as 5 a.m.
And over the next three decades, the West African nation’s population is expected to soar even more: from 216 million this year to 375 million, the UN says. That will make Nigeria the fourth-most populous country in the world after India, China and the United States.
“We are already overstretching what we have — the housing, roads, the hospitals, schools. Everything is overstretched,” says Gyang Dalyop, an urban planning and development consultant in Nigeria.
The UN’s Day of 8 Billion milestone is more symbolic than precise, officials are careful to note in a wide-ranging report released over the summer that makes some staggering projections.
The upward trend threatens to leave even more people in developing countries further behind, as governments struggle to provide enough classrooms and jobs for a rapidly growing number of youth, and food insecurity becomes an even more urgent problem.
Nigeria is among eight countries the UN says will account for more than half the world’s population growth between now and 2050 — along with fellow African nations Congo, Ethiopia and Tanzania.