Albawaba.com - Census figures released by Egypt's central statistics bureau show that Egypt's total population was 65,205,000 in January 2000.
The figure includes 63,305,000 persons living inside Egypt, and 900,000 temporary emigrants, the Central Authority for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) reported.
Over the last three years, the population has increased by 3,707,000 people. Women account for 48.8 percent of the population and men for 51.2 percent.
In 1999 alone, the population rose by 1,291,623 people. The census reveals an average annual increase of 1,235,000. In other words, Egypt has 107,635 new citizens every month or, if calculated in terms of days, 3,539 babies born daily at an alarming birth rate of 24.4 every second.
"The new figures indicate a slight rise in the normal annual increase from 1,235,000 to 1,291,000," Ehab Elwi, chairman of CAPMAS, told Al Ahram Weekly. "This increase, though not alarming, is unfavorable, considering the negative effects of over-population on society and development." More people mean more mouths to feed, Elwi explained, adding that this puts a strain on the economy. The average annual consumption of wheat, he said, is 170.5 kilograms per capita. "That is, we need 11 million tons of wheat to feed our population," Elwi added. "Just consider our wheat production volume and how much we have to import to feed citizens.” Despite the natural increase in absolute population figures, the growth rate has remained almost constant since the last 10-year census was carried out in 1996. This census discovered a marked drop in growth rates from 2.8 per cent in 1986, to 2.1 percent in 1996. The same census also revealed a fall in birth rates from 28.5 to 27.5 per 1000 for the same years, a drop that has prevailed since 1996.
These figures were hailed as proof of the success of the national family planning program which focused on ensuring the ready availability of contraceptives, provided urban and rural areas with family planning services and centers, and launched an intensive media campaign to increase public awareness.
As a result, the number of women using contraceptives has more than doubled over the last 15 years. In 1980, only 24 percent of women of childbearing age used contraceptives, compared to 49 percent in 1995.
The average Egyptian family currently has 4.6 members, compared to 4.9 members in 1986, which translates into a decrease of around 4.5 million people a year.
The World Population Data sheet of the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has corroborated these facts. The report indicates the number of Egyptian women using contraceptives is nearing the international average of 52 percent. Also, Egypt has a rate of 26 births per 1000 people – a figure slightly higher than the international rate of 22 per 1000.
Another good explanation for the decline in population growth rate, as indicated by the 1996 census, is the fact that more people are getting married later in life. Married couples made up 64.8 percent of people within the legal marriage age range in 1986, but this figure dropped to 61.2 percent in 1996, when the last comprehensive census was conducted.
The number of unmarried people increased from 25.7 percent to 27.8 percent.
According to the PRB report, Egypt's population in mid-2000 stood at 68,344,000, marking a typical annual increase of 1.98 percent and opening a Pandora's box of questions about the accuracy of CAPMAS figures. The report also reveals other alarming figures: projected population in 2025 will reach 97.431 million and 117.121 million by the year 2050.
What is troubling, however, is that 23 percent of the population are aged 10 and below, which will result in an enormous workforce in the near future for which Egypt is unprepared -- CAIRO
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