CAIRO, Sep 20 (IPS) – According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Egypt’s population increased from 104 million in November 2022 to 105 million in June 2023. This represents the growth rate for the country, where the poverty rate is 27.3 percent. Population growth means it increases by a million every 245 days, or 3 people per minute.
Egypt’s population density has also increased, from 100.1 people per square kilometer (km2) in 2020 to 104.2 persons per km2 in 2023. Cairo is Egypt’s most populous governorate, with more than 10 million inhabitants, followed by Giza, with 9.5 million inhabitants.
Egypt’s fertility rate has fallen in recent years, from 3.5 births per woman in 2014 to 2.85 births per woman in 2021. However, the annual birth rate is still high, around 2.2 million.
If current fertility rates remain stable, Egypt’s population will reach 119 million in 2030 and 165 million in 2050. However, if fertility rates fall to 1.6 children per woman by 2042, the population will reach 117 million by 2030 and 139 million by 2050, Dr. Najwa Samak, former head of Cairo University’s economics department, says.
Samak stressed that Egypt’s rapid population growth is a burden on the national economy and a major challenge for the state’s development efforts. She called for joint efforts from all sectors of society, including civil society organizations, the media and government agencies, to control population growth.
She said the human element is one of the most important factors of production for any country and population growth can be a boon if used to increase production rates and national income. However, in the case of Egypt, the rate of population growth is exceeding the rate of economic growth, putting pressure on the country’s resources.
Samak said family planning is crucial, but the Chinese model of one-child families is not the answer. She said this model can lead to psychological harm for families and children.
She said the most important thing now is to invest in eradicating illiteracy and improving the living standards of poor families. This will help raise awareness of the challenges of population growth and enable families to make informed choices about their reproductive health.
Dr. Hussein Abdelaziz, a professor of statistics at Cairo University, said the Egyptian government aims to reduce the fertility rate from 2.8 to 1.6 children per woman in the coming years. He said uncontrolled population growth is a major challenge to the state’s development efforts and depletes the country’s resources.
Abdulaziz says that female illiteracy is one of the main reasons for Egypt’s high fertility rate. He said there are some villages in Egypt where illiteracy among girls is as high as 50%. He called for the empowerment of women through education to tackle the problem of population growth.
Despite the challenges, Abdelaziz takes hope from a number of governorates that have achieved positive population growth indicators. He cited Port Said and Alexandria, where fertility rates are 1.8 and 2.1 children per woman, respectively. These figures are similar to reproductive rates in developed countries.
Abdulaziz said the Egyptian government is working to reduce the fertility rate by providing family planning services, improving access to education and raising awareness about the challenges of population growth.
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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service