Nigerian Population Growth Rate: Details & Statistics


When Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, there were 45.2 million people living in the country.

By 2015, this number had quadrupled with over 180 million people living within the geographical area called Nigeria.

And it is expected that by 2050, Nigeria will be the third most populous in the world with nearly 400 million people living in the country.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the country’s population growth over the last six decades and how this has affected the country as a whole.

nigerian population growth rate

One of the ways that has been proposed to help mitigate the explosive growth rate currently happening in the country is family planning. This is basically allowing couples decide the number of children they can adequately take care while take the necessary measures to follow through with that decision.

Some of the benefits of family planning include:

  • Reduction of maternal mortality
  • Creating more access to education
  • Improving the economic wellbeing of women

However, family planning is yet to be properly implemented in the country with the indices used in measuring family planning indicating that the adoption rate is still low on the average. For instance, the total fertility rate (TFR) in the country which measures the number of children a woman would have by the end of her childbearing years is at an average of 5.5 births per woman. The TFR in rural is lower than what is obtained in the urban centres. In the rural areas, the TFR is 6.2 births per woman while the urban birth per woman is 4.7.

Overall, the use of contraceptive is quite low in Nigeria particularly in the North East with less than 3% adoption rate. However, the stats are more encouraging in the South West with an adoption rate of 38%.

The low adoption rate of contaceptives in the North can be linked to the high illiteracy level in the area as it is said that contraceptive use improves with education;

Interestingly, it has been discovered that little contraceptive use is not due to lack of information as it has been observed that across all geopolitical zones that the knowledge of contraceptive methods is high but this hasn’t necessarily translated to a higher adoption rate.

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Comparing Nigeria’s growth rate to a developed country like the United Kingdom, it was discovered that the British population has grown by 20% in the last 56 years while that of the Nigerian populace has grown by over 300%.

Interestingly, the GDP of the United Kingdom is $2.849 trillion while the GDP of Nigeria is estimated at $481 billion. This probably explained the gulf in the economic condition of the two nations with scarcity of resources being a major problem due to the Nigeria’s large population.

This explains why family planning is important now more than ever. Some of the International Agencies that have been involved in promoting family planning in Nigeria include ARFH, Marie Stopes International, Society for Family Heallth, FHI360 and NURHI.

Over the years, it has been observed that the Federal and State Government in collaboration with these partners have observed family planning from the health point of view. However, it seems necessary that there should be a change of tactics as family planning currently requires to be adopted from the perspective of population size and growth.

Nigerian Population Growth Rate

Below is an overview of the population growth rate per year from 1952 to date:

Year Population ±% p.a.

1952  30,403,305  —

1963  54,959,426  +5.53%

1991  88,992,220  +1.74%

2006  140,431,790 +3.09%

2011  162,471,000 +2.96%

2013  174,507,539 +3.64%

2015  182,202,000 +2.18%

2017  191,836,000 +2.61%

The growth rate was fastest in the 1980s after child mortality dropped rapidly but this has slowed slightly since then.

Another important data is the average total fertility rate which is highlighted below:

Variable   TFR (2003) TFR (2008) TFR (2013)

Nigeria        5.7           5.7     5.5

Urban         4.9           4.7     4.7

Rural         6.1           6.3     6.2

North Central 5.7            5.4     5.3

North East    7.0           7.2     6.3

North West   6.7           7.3     6.7

South East    4.1           4.8     4.7

South South  4.6            4.7     4.3

South West   4.1           4.5     4.6

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In order to understand the population growth rate better, we’ve highlighted some important stats that determine this rate below. The period under review is from 1950 to 2015.

Period           Birth/year Death/year     NC/year   CBR  CDR NC   TFR  IMR

1950-1955  1 821 000  1 169 000  652 000    46.1  29.6  16.5  6.35  200.7

1955-1960  1 998 000  1 181 000  817 000    46.3  27.3  19.0  6.35  186.6

1960-1965  2 202 000  1 197 000  1 005 000  46.1  25.1  21.0  6.35  172.9

1965-1970  2 431 000  1 244 000  1 187 000  45.7  23.4  22.3  6.35  159.6

1970-1975  2 801 000  1 306 000  1 495 000  46.8  21.8  25.0  6.61  147.3

1975-1980  3 232 000  1 377 000  1 855 000  47.1  20.1  27.0  6.76  134.2

1980-1985  3 642 000  1 467 000  2 175 000  46.2  18.6  27.6  6.76  125.3

1985-1990  4 018 000  1 657 000  2 361 000  44.8  18.5  26.3  6.60  126.0

1990-1995  4 446 000  1 866 000  2 580 000  43.6  18.3  25.3  6.37  126.0

1995-2000  4 984 000  2 075 000  2 909 000  43.1  17.9  25.2  6.17  118.6

2000-2005  5 606 000  2 230 000  3 376 000  42.7  17.0  25.7  6.05  104.0

2005-2010  6 309 000  2 224 000  4 085 000  42.2  14.9  27.3  6.01  89.9

2010-2015                                      5.74

KEY

CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000);

CDR = crude death rate (per 1000);

NC = natural change (per 1000);

IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births;

TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)

Presently, the Nigerian population is growing at a rate of 2.6% and there have been concerns in many quarters that this rate is clearly unsustainable when compared to the country’s economic growth.

However, the government seems to be working really hard to bring down this rate over the next few years.

A few weeks ago, the Federal Minister of Health announced that the healthcare sector would begin to use Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWS) to address the problem of manpower shortage especially in the rural areas in order to provide access to family planning service. It is generally expected that this will go a long way in addressing the population growth rate which currently growing exponentially.

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