- Egypt is facing a double population boom by 2050, a threat that could have President Hosni Mubarak's government enforce tough family planning policies to curb the looming crisis.
Bringing together Egyptians from all sectors in a national population conference, the first in 20 years, which started Monday this week, officials in the North African state, one after another, decried overpopulation against scares resources as well as decreasing habitable land.
President Mubarak alarmed to the nation, demographic growth as 'serious obstacle to our development efforts and our efforts at raising standards of living', while at the same time urging Egyptian families, government, private sector and the civil society to join in a national campaign to promote awareness of overpopulation.
Egypt's population had reached 78.7 million in May this year, according to the country's central agency for public mobilisation and statistics, making the country one of the fastest growing population per density in the world with a birth rate estimated at about three babies every minute.
Egyptian population increases by 1.3 million every year and will soon increase by two million a year, specialists say, adding that at its current pace, population is expected to more than double by 2050 to reach 160 million, in a country with an inhabitable surface of 45,000 square kilometers.
Egyptian Health Minister Hatem al-Gabali said on Tuesday that country had set aside 480 million Egyptian pounds (about US $90 million) to cope with its overpopulation problem through family planning.
Authorities plan to bring number of children per family down to 2.4 by 2012 and 2.1 by 2017 against current figures estimating an average of 3.1 children per woman and the number increasing to five children per woman in rural areas.
Minister al-Gabali told participants at the population conference, that "small families could save the country some 170 billion pounds (US $31 billion) in investments.
"It is a make or break task that requires action to correct misconceptions among youths, who still do not seem to grasp the problem of having three, four or five children," the minister said.
Anlysts expect population to reach 100 million by 2025, saying if the current rate of reproduction is lowered, it may be limited to 120 million by 2050.
Egypt's high economic returns have failed to translate to reality with demographics playing a trickle-down in the poverty measures.
According to latest figures on the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Program, the country is ranked 48th amongst 108 developing nations. Egypt is suffering from rampant unemployment and some 40 % of the population lives below $2 per day.
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