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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

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Feb 20, 2010

Population Growth in Egypt

In 2009 the population in Egypt exceeded 83 million people, and it is expected to reach 100 million people by the year 2025.

In a speech delivered at the American University of Cairo (al ahram, 2/15), Prime Minister Natheef noted that the population growth in Egypt is creating major obstacles to the economic growth and human development of the country. He, furthermore, said that due to Egypt limited natural resources, the government has faced difficulties in improving the quality of higher education, scientific research and innovation.

The recent UNICEF Report reflects the negative consequences of Egypt population growth (al ahram, 2/17). It points out that 39% of Egypt population consist of children under the age of 15. Out of which 5 million children are living in unhealthy shelters lacking fresh water or sewage facilities, and 1.6 million under the age of 5 are malnourished.

Population growth in Egypt has always been a problem. At the time of the 1952 revolution, the population in Egypt was ¼ of what it is now. During the past six decades, presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar el Sadat and Hosny Mubarak, have all stressed the dangers of such growth and the negative consequences it will inflict on the country, economically, socially and politically. For six decades the government stressed family planning and birth control without great success.

There are major factors that contribute to such growth:
- High rate of illiteracy especially among women in rural areas
- Early marriages of young girls sometimes before they reach the legal age of 17
- Ignorance of religious leaders who oppose government policy, especially in rural areas. The official stand of Al Azhar supports family planning and birth control

From a demographic point of view, if Egyptian families limit their birth to two children, it will take 50 years for Egypt to reach zero population growth. This means that the birth rates would balance the death rate.

It is primordial for the Egyptian government to seriously examine and re-assess its present defunct family planning policy

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