There are already more Christians in Africa than any other continent—that’s not going to change soon
By 2060 six of the countries with the top ten largest Christian populations will be in Africa, up from three in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center report. The projections are in line with the gradual shift that has increasingly seen Christian populations live outside the historical cultural centers of the religion.
The size of the Christian population in Nigeria alone—already the largest on the continent—is projected to double by 2060. In addition, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya are projected to join the list of countries with the top ten largest Christian populations, replacing Russia, Germany and China.
In total, the Christian population in the six African countries on the list alone will account for just under a quarter of the projected global Christian population of three billion people.
The upsurge in the African Christian population matches general population growth projections; while around 2.2 billion people could be added to the global population by 2050, more than half of that growth will occur in Africa.
Meanwhile, the decline of Christian population in Europe is especially notable in Britain where, last year, a survey showed “an unrelenting decline in Church of England and Church of Scotland” numbers. Only 14% of Britons identified as members of the Church of England—a record low. Similarly, Church of Scotland numbers dropped to 18% from 31% in 2002.
In contrast, the spread of Christianity is clearly visible in several African countries with an explosion in the number of church denominations and structures across urban centers and even in rural areas. In some cases, mega-church sites are morphing into cities, complete with housing estates, banks, grocery stores and police stations. Beyond dominant architecture, the prominence of Christianity is often visible in other ways: in Ghana, for instance, small and medium scale businesses are often named based on biblical verses.
The rise of Christianity in Africa is also captured outside the continent. In a reversal from nearly five centuries ago when Christian missionaries first brought the religion to to African communities, African preachers, led by “reverse missionaries,” are increasingly taking charge of the gospel in England, as Quartz Africa has reported.
In comparison, while there were three African countries (Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria) among countries with top ten largest Muslim populations in 2015, that number will be reduced to two (Nigeria and Egypt) by 2060.
Nigeria’s religious fault lines are also highlighted in the report as, by 2060, it will be home to the third largest Muslim and Christian populations globally and will be the only country on the list on top ten largest populations for both religions.