The population of HIV/AIDS-ravaged southern Africa is expected to decline by 22 percent by 2050, according to a recent study.
The latest world population data sheet of the United States-based Population Reference Bureau estimates South Africa's population will drop from 44-million this year to 35,1 million in 2025, and to 32,5 million in 2050 - a 26 percent decline.
It gives an estimated percentage of South Africans between the ages of 15 and 49 with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2001 as 20.1 percent, and life expectancy at present mortality rates at 53 for men and 54 for women.
Botswana's population is also expected to go down by 43 percent from the current 1,5 million to 0,9 million by 2050, while slight increases are expected in Namibia and Lesotho's populations, the PRB report says.
An estimated 38.8 percent of Botswana's citizens have HIV/AIDS.
South Africa's current rate of natural increase - the birth rate minus the death rate - is the second lowest on the continent at 0.9 percent, second only to Botswana's 0.3 percent.
Central Africa is expected to be the fastest-growing region in the first half of the 21st century. It will grow to 193 percent compared to its current size by 2050.
Western Africa follows, increasing to 142 percent of its 2003 population.
The population of HIV/AIDS-ravaged southern Africa is projected to fall by 22 percent, a decline that no one would have predicted in the recent past, the report says.
In global terms, the PRB expects India to overtake China as the world's most populous country by 2050, with 1,628-billion people (1,069-billion in 2003) compared to China's 1,394-billion (1,289-billion in 2003).
The US is expected to remain in third place with 422 million citizens by 2050 - it currently has 292-million.
Nigeria, currently in ninth place with a population of 134 million, is expected to more than double to 307 million by 2050 for sixth place.
Other African countries expected to be in the top 20 by 2050 are the Democratic Republic of Congo with 181 million people (now 56,5 million), Ethiopia with 173 million (now 71 million), Egypt with 127 million (now 72 million), Sudan 84 million (now 38,1 million), and Uganda with 82 million (now 25,3 million).
Countries expected by the PRB to drop out of the top 20 are Germany, France, and Thailand.(Source:SAPA, 22 July 2003)