1 September, 2016
Since 1950, the urban population of the world has grown rapidly. In the year 2007, the world’s urban population exceeded the rural population for the first time and since then it has predominantly remained that way.
The urban population figures of the world grew from 746 million to 3.9 million in 2014, with figures expected to grow drastically in lower- middle and low income countries. Asia, despite its lower level of urbanization, is now home to 53 per cent of the world’s urban population.
However, the rural population of the world, which has been rising since 1950, and is currently 3.4 billion approximately, is not expected to change drastically in the coming few years. According to the World Urbanization Prospects 2014, the rural population growth is likely to drop after 2020 and might reach 3.2 billion in the year 2050.
Africa and Asia, which are experiencing greater urbanization than the rest of the world, are still driving the dynamics behind the rural population growth in the world. The two continents are also home to 90 per cent of the world’s rural populace.
Among Asian countries, India has 857 million people living in rural areas, the highest in the world, followed by China which has 635 million rural residents. The two Asian giants together account for 45 per cent of the world’s rural population, followed by Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan.
One third of the countries are also projected to experience an increase in their rural population between the year 2014 and 2050. Nigeria, Ethiopia and Uganda will experience the biggest increase of 50 million, 39 million and 38 million respectively, as per the World Urbanization Prospects 2014. The remaining two thirds of countries are expected to have stable or declining rural populations.
China is likely to experience the biggest decline in rural population of 300 million and India may also see a decline in its rural populace by 52 million.
The population growth, particularly, people moving from rural to urban areas; will lead to growth in energy consumption. Asia’s primary energy demand is projected to increase at 2.1% per year over the outlook period (2010–2035)—faster than the projected world average growth rate of 1.5% per year during the same period. Growth in primary energy demand will differ by country, reflecting the regional diversity in economic development and population growth.
Overall by energy type, coal will maintain the dominant share in the primary energy demand of Asia, accounting for 42.1% in 2035, according to the Energy
Outlook report of Asian Development Bank.