Skip to main content

State of the Tropics: Central and Southern Africa


  • From 1995 to 2010, gross domestic product in the region had an annual growth rate of 5.3% – the second fastest growing region in the Tropics.
  • Since 1980, there has been a 61% increase in cattle/buffalo numbers (an extra 66 million beasts) and the greatest increase (154%) in sheep/goat holdings in the Tropics, or an additional 190 million head to 315 million.
  • Cereal production increased by 173% to 96 million tonnes – the biggest increase in the Tropics.
  • The overall population has more than doubled in the past 30 years with the region being one of only two in the Tropics where fertility rates are still above five births per woman.
  • By 2050 it is estimated than 30% of the world’s children under ten years of age will live in the region.
  • The region has had one of the strongest growth rates of adult mean years of schooling and adult literacy albeit from a low base.
  • Life expectancy has increased from 36 years in 1950-55 to 54 in 2005-10 – the lowest in the Tropics.
  • The number of the people living in extreme poverty has more than doubled in the past 30 years and the undernourished population has increased from 137 million in 1990-92 to 195 million in 2010-12.
  • The percentage of the region’s urban population living in slum conditions was 76% in 2001 and in 2010 was estimated to be 62% in sub-Sahara Africa.
  • HIV prevalence in region has been falling steadily from a peak of 5.2% in 1999, as has the AIDS mortality rate, the latter largely attributable to initiatives that have expanded access to antiretroviral therapy.
  • AIDS has been a contributing factor to lower life expectancy as the region has 17 of the 21 nations where AIDS accounted for both more than 10% of deaths in 2008 and life expectancy at birth to fall by more than 15 years between 1990 and 2005 in some nations.
  • Armed conflict, malaria and HIV were significant contributors to the regions having the highest rates of adult mortality.
  • TB incidence was significantly higher than in most other tropical regions in 2010, although it has seen a 23% decline from the peak of 313 in 1999.
  • The region carries the highest malaria burden, with nearly 160 million cases in 2010 or 75% of malaria cases in the Tropics. Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Cote d’Ivoire alone accounted for 47% of global malaria cases.
  • The region achieved the second largest improvement in female representation in parliaments, increasing by 9.6% to 19.1% in 2011.