Maps are powerfully simple ways of conveying information. But as the image above demonstrates, the most common world map has been conveying it all wrong: Because of the varying scale of the Mercator projection, Africa is perceived by many to be much smaller than it really is. This may be one reason it has been subject, throughout history, to alternating phases of neglect and exploitation.
Today, Africa is on the cusp of one of the most significant demographic shifts in human history. Now home to 1.11 billion people, the continent is projected to more than double in population over the next 35 years, while growth elsewhere slows (parts of Asia, Latin America) and even reverses (Western Europe, Japan). But without economic growth that’s fairly distributed, most of the kids born thre will be consigned to grow up into a life of extreme poverty.
Nonetheless, recent progress in helping the world’s poorest indicates this need not be their fate. The maps in this gallery show some of the issues that African entrepreneurs, governments, and institutions, as well as their partners and funders in the global north, might focus on to make the best of a potentially difficult situation.
Elements of this article appeared previously at One.org.