Egypt’s population situation continues to rapidly increase, a pattern that has existed for years despite government efforts to battle overpopulation.
Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) recorded a 750,000 spike in the country’s total population over the past 170 days, growing from approximately 103,000,000 to 103,750,000.
STUDYING THE PATTERN, NOT THE NUMBER
Egypt’s rapid population growth should come as no surprise in the context of previously recorded increases. The same uprise was recorded last year, reaching 750,000 from April 2021 to December 2021.
In 2020, Egypt recorded an increase of one million in the span of eight months. Another one million was recorded in 2016, this time in six months.
At an average growth rate of 2 percent per year, Egypt’s demographic trends project it to be the tenth largest country by 2100, at a predicted 225 million. Egypt’s Director of the Planning Ministry’s Demographic Center, Amira Tawadros, cuts that prediction by half, declaring that Egypt could reach 190 million by 2050.
A QUIET CRISIS, GETTING LOUDER
Egypt’s overpopulation acts as a looming dread amid ongoing economic struggles, as the government struggles to ensure resources to the population.
Governmental efforts to stem population growth date back to 2008, when former President Hosni Mubarak launched the nationwide “Small family concept” campaign, which hung on banners along Nile bridges in an attempt to spread awareness.
The campaign hoped to curb Egypt’s then-76 million population. That number has increased by nearly 28 million in just 14 years. Mubarak declared Egypt’s population growth an “urgent issue” on 9 June 2008, initiating the National Population Conference in response.
Today, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi continues to face the same obstacles Mubarak met in 2008: unplanned population growth. His response was to launch the ‘Two Is Enough’ campaign in 2018, which promoted the idea of stopping at two children per family.
Al-Sisi continued his fight against overpopulation by launching a second campaign in February 2022: the National Family Development Project, which hoped to curb the population increase in a bid to lessen the cost of living.
Egypt’s exacerbating population issue is the product of traditional and religious beliefs, despite efforts by Al-Azhar to quash the notion that having as many children is an act of piety. The Health Ministry’s efforts to introduce birth control in 2020 in a bid to eliminate unwanted pregnancies and decrease the amount of Egyptians born.
Egypt’s recently rising economic struggles, heightened by COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, took center stage while efforts to curb overpopulation continued, as the focus shifted to boosting foreign reserves and stabilizing the economy.
Yet it is the country’s continuous surge in citizens that perpetuates Egypt’s economic struggles – a struggle Al-Sisi believes requires EGP 19 trillion (USD 1 trillion) to maintain pace with the population, all in a bid to protect households and feed its people.