Politics & Economics

Concerns grow in Egypt amidst rapidly rising population levels

North Africa

Exponential population growth in Egypt is considered to be acting as a burden on public services and institutions.

Concern is growing in Egypt due to the country’s rapidly rising population levels. According to the latest national statistics, the population figure is almost 100 million people, making Egypt the third most populous country in Africa and the fourteenth in the world.

However, this figure is expected to rise to 119 million by 2030.

According to some figures monitoring this rise, the rate of newborns is exacerbating current poverty and illiteracy levels, as well as increasing the marriage of minors.

“Every year, 2.5 million babies are born in Egypt, while the continent of Europe generates 5 million births each year,” said Amro Hassan, a reporter for the National Population Council based in Cairo. “In Egypt, half the number of births of an entire continent is born.”

This rapid rise is also exacerbating state infrastructure, putting pressure on schools, hospitals, and housing.

“The number of students in schools is unusual,” said Mohammed Abdul Moeti, a former member of the parliament. “The government builds many schools each year and the number of students in the class reaches 75.”

For others, however, the growing population is a potential benefit given the disproportionate levels of people in major cities compared with other areas.

“We suffer from poor distribution of the population. Cairo and Alexandria are overcrowded, while the population of the New Valley Governorate, the largest governorate of Egypt, does not exceed 0.5%,” said Karim al-Amdeh. “Government officials are unable to provide or implement solutions to these problems.”

Recent investment in the industrial sector has helped to utilise local Egyptian manufacturers and reduce the need for imports, allowing manufacturers to produce local alternatives. However, the population growth is currently surpassing any level of investment.

Last July, the Health Ministry announced that it would target population growth of 2.4 children per woman, down from the average of 3.2 children per woman, and keep the overall level down to 112 million by 2030.

But if it fails to reach this target and continues on its trajectory to 119 million by 2030, the United Nations estimates that the country will need 377,000 more doctors and 1.09 million more teachers to hit targets of one per 1,000 people. The country will also need tens of thousands more jobs a year, which, given the current 10% level of unemployment, would put added pressure on the state in Egypt.

Image: Reuters