Egypt's population grows by a million in 221 days

The Arab world’s most populous country reached 104 million people, with a baby born every 19 seconds

El Ataba market in Cairo. Egypt has succeeded in reducing births from 3.5 per woman in 2014 to 2.8 in 2021, but the government says that is not enough to address overpopulation. Photo: AFP
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Egypt’s population grew by another million in 221 days, the country’s statistics agency said.

It exceeded 104 million on Saturday, with a baby born every 19 seconds, or 4,525 births a day.

The Arab world’s most populous country reached 100 million in February 2020 and has been adding a million to its population every 240 days on average thereafter.

It took less time for the latest one million increase because of “the noticeable decrease in the number of deaths, reaching 1,566 per day, compared to 1,858 per day in the previous period”, the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (Capmas) said.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has previously said that rapid population growth hinders national progress and initiatives to improve the lives of citizens.

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Overpopulation constitutes a “burden on the national economy” and “generates many economic, social, environmental and security challenges”, Capmas said.

The Ministry of Health and Population has encouraged families to have fewer children, spending more than 100 million Egyptian pounds ($5.1m) annually to offer family planning methods at no charge or at a discount.

In 2020, Egypt launched a two-year initiative called Two Is Enough.

Egypt has succeeded in reducing the rate from 3.5 births per woman in 2014 to 2.8 in 2021. In other words, every 10 women produce 28 children.

“That’s a good number, but it’s not enough,” Hussein Abdel Aziz, adviser to the head of Capmas, told Egyptian TV station Sada El Balad on Saturday night.

He said the goal is to reduce the rate to 1.6 children per woman, or 16 babies for every 10 women, “like in developed countries”.

At the current fertility rate, Egypt’s population will reach 165 million in 2050. If the rate is reduced to 1.6, the population will reach 139 million in 2050.

The governorates with the highest birth rates are mainly in Upper Egypt, including Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Minya and Beni Suef.

The areas with the lowest birth rates included the port cities of Port Said and Suez, and the Nile Delta governorates of Damietta, Dakahlia and Qalyubia.

The country’s three most populous governorates are Cairo with more than 10.1 million people, Giza with 9.4 million, and Sharqia in the northern part of the country with 7.8 million.

Egypt is the most populous African country after Nigeria and Ethiopia, and 14th worldwide.

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Updated: December 30, 2022, 2:40 PM