Sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to undergo a population explosion in the next 20 years. The Muslim population of the region is projected to represent 17.6% of the global Muslim population by 2030.
According to Pew, Islam is the second most popular religion in Sub-Saharan Africa with 30.2% of the population being Muslims. Religious switching is also expected to be higher in favor of Islam than other religions in Africa. West Africa is the only Sub-Saharan African region where Islam is the religion of the majority while Southern Africa has the lowest Muslim population.
In West Africa, the number of Muslims is projected to rise from 160 million in 2010 to 257 million in 2030, an increase of over 60%. The sub-region’s Muslim population will account for around 52.2% of the total population by 2030, a slight increase from 50.4% in 2010. In 19 African countries, Islam serves as the religion of the majority, World Atlas mentions.
Among the Sub-Saharan African countries, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Gabon are projected to experience the highest increase in the share of population that is Muslim. Nigeria, West Africa’s most populous country has the largest Muslim population of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Nigeria 47.9% of the total population practiced Islam in 2010 and the percentage is expected to increase to 51.5% by 2030, a growth of 3.7 points. It is expected to grow from an estimated 75,728,000 in 2010 to 116,832,000 Muslims by 2030.
Ivory Coast and Gabon are expected to exhibit a growth of 3.0 and 2.3 points in their percentage share of Muslim population from 2010 to 2030. High fertility rates in general and more so in the Muslim community in Sub-Saharan Africa is believed to be the biggest factor leading to the projected increase in the region’s Muslim population. Economic development and better healthcare access will also improve the survival rate of the region’s population. Africa was the second continent that Islam spread into after Asia, which explains the relatively high percentage and number of Muslims in this continent, Research Gate mentioned.
Islam made an entrance in Africa from Asia in the 7th century. Nearly one-third of the total Muslim population in the world can be found in Africa. During the Hegira, Muslims sought refuge in Ethiopia’s territory having crossed Djibouti, Somalia, as well as Eritrea. Between the eighth and ninth centuries, Arab traders and travelers, then African clerics, began to spread the religion along the eastern coast of Africa and to the western and central Sudan (literally, “Land of Black people”), stimulating the development of urban communities, according to Metmuseum.