SA’s population has grown to 60,6-million, with an estimated 28% younger than 15 years and 9% aged 60 and over, says Statistics SA.
Provinces with the highest youth populations are Limpopo (33,6%) and Eastern Cape (32,7%), according to the mid-year population estimates.
Gauteng comprises the largest share of the total population, with approximately 16,10-million people (26,6%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal with an estimated 11,54-million people (19%) living there.
“Between 2002 and 2022 SA experienced a positive population growth year-on-year. A positive growth rate indicates the population is increasing, despite the devastating impact of Covid-19 globally and within SA’s borders,” said Stats SA.
“The elderly population, who are more vulnerable to having comorbidities, are more likely to experience the devastating effects of Covid-19.
“The vast number of deaths within this age group occurring during the Covid-19 pandemic led to a drastic decline in the growth rate (1,47%) of the elderly population.”
However, by June 20 2021, SA fast-tracked the Covid-19 vaccination programme to ensure healthcare workers and people aged 60 years and above were vaccinated, said Stats SA.
“The impact of such a health intervention not only saved the lives of those aged 60 and older but also those transitioning into the elderly age group, resulting in an increased rate of growth among the elderly population (2,11%) by 2022.”
On people moving between provinces, Stats SA said for the period 2021–2026, Gauteng and Western Cape are estimated to experience the largest inflow of migrants of approximately, 1.4-million and 460,489 respectively.
The mid-year population estimates do not include inputs from this year’s census. The census data will be released in 2023 and these will be built into the 2024 estimates.
The data has prompted a call on government to build capacity, with a community development foundation saying: “The latest population data comes at a time when young people are in crisis, experiencing extortionate levels of death, poverty, unemployment and violence.”
“The youth alone in this country are a population of 20.6 million, making up 35.7% of the country’s total population. Sadly most of these young people (60%) live in poverty. Provinces with major metros and cities are under the most pressure to serve rapidly growing populations,” said the Afrika Tikkun Foundation.
ATF CEO Alef Meulenberg urged funding for more research into areas which can improve how the government meets the needs of young people, such as migration patterns, education outcomes and technology which can create jobs for the youth.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of a prepared and well-resourced scientific community working hand-in-hand with government and the private sector to implement plans that can save lives and give people the services they need in times of crisis.”
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