At the G20 summit earlier this month, French president Emmanuel Macron went into great detail about the problems facing Africa and possible solutions.

In comments that were initially buried amid the mountain of news coming out of the meeting, the president said that Africa needed “a more rigorous governance, a fight against corruption, a fight for good governance, [and] a successful demographic transition when countries today have seven or eight children per woman”.

That reference to the African birthrate provoked a certain degree of horror from the media, with the French newspaper Libération, not exactly a renowned bastion of social conservatism, citing a book by radical feminist academic Françoise Vergès which points the finger at former colonial powers like France and Britain. “Third World women are made responsible for underdevelopment, [but] most studies show today that it is underdevelopment that causes overpopulation,” Vergès wrote. “The theory of overpopulation also avoids questioning the role of colonialism and imperialism in poverty.”

Macron’s comments may reflect some present anxieties about Africa’s population, which according to the recent World Population Prospects 2017 report will account for more than half of the global population growth to 9.8 billion by 2050.

The billionaire Bill Gates, meanwhile, who heads the vast philanthropic Gates Foundation, recently told Welt am Sonntag that Africa’s population growth would put “massive pressure” on Europe through immigration.

After Macron’s comments, the America journalist Ross Douthat said that a political realignment was now underway in Europe. He tweeted that it was “Inevitable that Euro-technocrats will rediscover ’60s/’70s population-control enthusiasm over the next few decades.

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