New York, Feb 27:Fifty-five per cent of India's population-- amounting to 900 million people-- would move to cities by 2050, according to UN estimates. The 2007 Revision of World Urbanisation Prospects-- which provides the official UN estimates and projections of the urban, rural and city populations of all countries in the world up to 2050-- however, pointed out that even with such a large urban population it would remain the country with the largest rural population.
According to the estimates about half of the world population would be concentrated in urban centres by 2050, proving that urbanisation was a global phenomenon. It also pointed out that Asia and Africa would be the focus of urban population growth in the future. The UN report said that contrary to expectations megacities-- those with more than 10 million inhabitants-- would not be the focus of population growth. ''The fastest growth rates will be found in the cities of Africa, such as Lagos and Kinshasa that are not yet megacities but will be in the future, and the cities of Pakistan and Bangladesh, such as Lahore, Karachi and Dhaka,'' it said.
Presenting the report here yesterday, Director of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Hania Zlotnik said, ''Perhaps the most important message of the report is that not all the regions of the world are equally urbanised.'' ''Although Asia and Africa are the least urbanised areas, they account for most of the urban population of the world,'' she informed, adding that the growth of the urban population in the years to come is going to be highly concentrated in these two regions.
She said in the next four decades Asia's urban population would more than double, rising by a whopping 1.8 billion people. China's urban population would grow by 30 per cent, reaching one billion by 2050. In Africa those living in cities would grow three times to voer 900 million by the same period.
The report noted that if fertility rates continue at current levels with the urbanisation growing at the predicted pace, the world's urban population will increase to 8.1 billion by 2050 instead of the 6.4 billion projected. In most of the countries of the developing world, estimates show that about 60 per cent of urban growth is now attributable to natural increase.
''The exception is China, where only 30 per cent of urban growth is due to natural increase and 70 per cent is attributable to changes in the number of areas considered urban and also to migration,'' Ms Zlotnik pointed out.