Egypt’s population has increased by 25 million people in the past 10 years, despite efforts by the government to curb population growth, the country’s planning minister said Tuesday.
Hala El Said made the remarks at the opening of the Global Congress on Population, Health, and Development, which is being held in Cairo.
She said that the rapid population growth is putting a strain on the country’s resources and is hindering its development.
“There is a close relationship between the size of the population and the average income of the country,” El Said said. “The larger the population, the lower the average income.”
She called on Egyptians to work together to address the challenges posed by rapid population growth.
“We need to strike a balance between population issues and development,” she said. “We need to invest in education and health care to improve the quality of life for all Egyptians.”
The congress is being held under the slogan “Healthy Population for Sustainable Development.” It is expected to draw more than 1,000 participants from around the world.
“The world population has reached approximately 8 billion people and is expected to approach 10 billion people by 2050. The last billion people contribute about 70% from lower- and middle-income developing countries, and it is expected that upon reaching 10 billion people, the contribution of these countries to the last billion will be about 90%,” said El-Said.
El-Said also discussed the impact of the population pyramid on development, explaining that, according to the demographic structure, the greater the population, the greater the number of children in the country.
“In Egypt, every 100 people responsible for production work to provide the needs of 60 other people. This works to reduce average incomes, as well as averages of savings and investment at the state level,” she said.
Regarding the impact of population increase on resources, El-Said explained that a growing population devours the fruits of development and average incomes. She added that there is a severe and widening gap between the increase in population and the demand for food. The greater the population, the greater the demand for food, thus increasing the gap between the demand and supply of food.
Egypt’s Minister of Planning referred to the efforts made by the Egyptian state in recent years to enhance agricultural production through the sustainable agriculture system or the reclamation of agricultural lands. Despite this, the demand for food has become greater than the supply, which led to the import of a large volume of basic food resources such as wheat and meat.
Regarding the decrease in the per capita share of water, El-Said explained that despite the state’s efforts in the national strategy to improve water efficiency for more effective use in agriculture, as well as projects for water desalination and sanitation services, there is a severe shortage of enough water for the citizen on an ongoing basis due to population increase.
El-Said stressed the state’s interest in the quality of life in all the services that are provided and in the investments the state spends in various fields such as education and health.
She further explained that the Egyptian state has spent nine times what was spent in 2014/2015 in the field of education in the last ten years to create new classrooms simultaneously.
About the information infrastructure, the competency system, the development and training of teachers, as well as the replacement and renewal of classrooms, she explained that 80% of those investments are directed to creating new classrooms to maintain the average classroom density.
El-Said added that EGP 15 billion was spent this year to maintain the class density at an average of 48 children, stressing the necessity of moving from the idea of quantity to quality due to the same volume of investments to what is linked to the characteristics of the population and demographic composition.
Regarding investment in health, El-Said explained that the Egyptian state spent 13 times what was spent on investment in health 10 years ago this year.
She explained that despite all of this, the human capital index in Egypt is still in the average position, which puts Egypt in an average position between countries high in human capital and low in it.
Egypt’s Minister of Planning referred to the demographic survey conducted by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMS), which revealed a decrease in the number of deaths of children as well as mothers during childbirth.
She stressed the importance of increasing investment in population characteristics, referring to the national project for Egyptian family development, which focuses on controlling population growth rates on the one hand, while investing in population characteristics within the framework of the population strategy.
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