A new study is warning that Egypt’s population explosion will worsen in the future, with the Arab country’s population projected to increase by 60 million in the next 30 years.
Egypt’s population has already surpassed 100 million, but the study, which was prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs at the United Nations, says the population will exceed 160 million by 2050.
Egypt’s population has been growing at 2% for several years now, even as Egyptian authorities have been trying to bring the population growth rate down. To convince the public to have smaller families, the authorities have launched awareness programs, most of which enlist the services of the mosque and the church.
The Ministry of Health also offers free birth control tools, including free contraceptives. Nevertheless, most of these methods have come short of bringing the population growth rate down, or even convincing Egyptians of the merits of having smaller families.
The UN study, World Population Prospects, focuses on a series of demographic data to measure population trends around the world. It says the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, which now have a combined population of 1.1 billion, will make up more than half of the world’s population growth from now until 2050.
It adds that Eastern and South-East Asia, Central and Southern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Northern America will witness a population decrease after reaching peak population size before the end of this century.
The same study expects Egypt’s population to rise to 225 million before the end of this century. This will put a huge burden on available resources in resource-poor Egypt, analysts said.
“There is always a problem when there is an imbalance between available resources and the population growth,” said leading social researcher, Ahmed Allam. “This imbalance means that available resources are far from enough to satisfy the needs of the population at a given place.”
Egypt is the third most densely populated country in the African continent, after Nigeria and Ethiopia. More than 1,540 Egyptians live on each square kilometre of their country’s urban space.
One of the reasons that Egypt is so densely populated is the fact thatEgyptians live on little more than 7% of their country’s total land. Population density is even worse in the capital Cairo, and in coastal cities, where most of the country’s investments and services are concentrated.
The good thing is that around half of the population is under the age of 25. Only 5% of the population is 65 years of age and above. This means that Egypt has a huge productive power that can be used in furthering this Arab country’s development, observers said.
“This power must be used in increasing production,” said Farid Abdel A’al, a professor of planning at Cairo University. “This is especially important with the government launching a great number of development projects that need workers.”
However, the population growth will outpace development, especially if this growth is not brought under control, other specialists said. Egypt launched a new family planning control campaign last year to convince the members of the public to have smaller families. Called “Two Are Enough”, the campaign aspired to reach 1.2 million women in ten Egyptian provinces. It specifically sought to raise these women’s knowledge of contraception methods. The Egyptian Ministry of Health and dozens of civil society organizations are joining hands together to make the campaign a success.
“The authorities need to act firmly in order to keep the lid on population growth,” said leading economist Khalid Mahmud. “Our country is in for major economic problems in the future if it cannot keep its population within tolerable limits for the economy.”