President El Sessi of Egypt has recently addressed the nation regarding the national and international accomplishments achieved in Egypt during the past 18 months.
What was of interest to me as social scientist was his emphasis on population growth? He stated, “ Egypt is facing a ticking bomb.”
He, of course, was referring to Egypt high population growth. “There are 2.5 million new babies per year”.
According to the Egyptian census record, by the end of December 2015, the total population will be 90 million people. This figure excludes the 8 to 10 million Egyptians working outside Egypt.
I would like to stress here that if the population growth continues at the same rate, Egypt would add another 30 million people during the next 10 years. Hence, by the year 2025 Egypt population will reach 130 million!
Such population growth would be a great challenge facing the Egyptian society, and would require serious consideration from the government regarding the policy made to fulfill the people’s basic needs. Such needs are: education, shelters, health care, food, and higher wages.
In order to fulfill the educational need for the 2.5 million additional people, 2000 new schools should be built.
Even without such an increase the present schools are in pitiful conditions. More than one third of the 47,000 schools in Egypt now, are unfit to be used.
The Egyptian Minister of Education, while referring to the high density of students in classes, admitted that there is a need to create 58,000 new classrooms in order to lower the number of students by half in each class. The large number of students in each class led to a low quality of education and to the drop out of students as mentioned in the Egyptian newspaper al masrawy (November 1, 2015).
As a result of the poor quality of education in schools, some parents are obliged to hire private teachers to help their children graduate. The Egyptian government has estimated the coast families face to pay for private lessons exceeds 16 billion Egyptian pounds per year!
It is a fact that there is a correlation between the quality of education and economic growth. From an economic and demographic theoretical model the 2.5 million increase in population per year, requires the national economic growth
to be at least 5% to 7% increase per year.
Egypt’s population growth has already reached a critical stage, 94% of its population is living on 6% of the total land. Hence, the Nile Valley and the Delta regions have the highest population density in the world.
One should also stress the fact that fresh water in Egypt has been decreasing to 600 cu.met. per person per year. Egypt has reached the poverty level in regard to water availability.
As a result of the minimal availability of water and land suitable for cultivation, Egypt is forced to import 7 million metric tons of wheat per year and the government is subsidizing the bread at a cost of 24 billion Egyptian pounds per year. Furthermore, the government subsidizes energy, transportation and other basic food items.
This policy of subsidy led to the continuing increase in the internal and external debts. The internal debts have been estimated to exceed 2.11trillion Egyptian pounds, and the foreign debts around 45 billion dollars.
The problem of population growth in Egypt has been acknowledged since the early 1950s.
Presidents Nasser, Sadat. Mubarak and now El Sessi have all advocated family planning policy.
In addition to the government’ policy, Al Azhar institution has also supported family planning programs. However, such programs were never successful.
I would like to conclude by stating that the Egyptian government should seriously review its family planning and birth control programs in order to curtail population increase.
For more information on population growth in Egypt, check my blog: http://mid-east-today.blogspot.com