Uganda’s population to hit 100m in 2050

By BENON HERBERT OLUKA  (email the author)


Posted  Thursday, October 27  2011 at  00:00

Uganda, with its high fertility ratio of about seven children per family, is likely to see its population rise to 103.2 million by 2050, latest projections indicate.

Government released the projections yesterday while launching a report that assesses the state of the country’s population, with a pledge that it is keeping a keener eye on the implications of Uganda’s high growth rate. The announcement coincides with the timing of a global report, which shows that the world population will hit the seven billion mark on Monday.

The State of Uganda Population Report 2011, launched in Kampala yesterday alongside the State of the World Population Report 2011, paints a picture of a country whose rapidly rising population could have “negative impacts” for its per capita economic growth.

Throughout most of that time, the majority of Uganda’s population is likely to be young – leaving a perpetually huge weight of dependence on a small number of productive Ugandans. Currently, according to the 120-page report, some 69 per cent of Uganda’s population is under 24 years of age.

However, in a speech read by Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi noted that the “government regards population as a crucial resource that can be harnessed for national development.

Estimates published in the report, whose focus this year was on reproductive health, show that if Uganda succeeded in reducing its population growth rate from the current 3.2 per cent to 2.4 per cent in the medium term, the country’s annual growth of per capita GDP could rise by between 0.5- 0.6 per cent.

“If we additionally consider the impact of the population dynamics such a reduction would entail, per capita economic growth could increase by between 1.4 and 3.0 percentage points per annum as long as Uganda would be in the phase of the ‘demographic gift’ with falling population growth but still substantial labour force growth,” it adds.

The report also adds that Uganda has an unusually large discrepancy in fertility between the highly educated (3.9) and the women with low education (7.8), which it says makes Uganda’s poor prone to being caught in a poverty trap which keeps poverty high, widens inequality and reduces economic growth.

In its analysis of the impact of population growth on resources, the report says more than 80 per cent of Ugandans rely directly upon land, agriculture, and fishing for their livelihoods, but environmental indicators reveal trends of degrading agricultural lands, soil erosion, deforestation, drainage of wetlands, loss of bio-diversity, reduced range land capacity, and increased pollution.

The report also indicates that the growth of urban populations throughout Uganda is placing particular stress on municipalities that already lack the infrastructure to meet current water and sanitation needs.

“In these urban areas, flooding, poorly constructed latrines, and the resultant run-off of solid waste contaminate water ways and further exacerbate diarrheal disease outbreaks. As such if the trend persists, there shall be several challenges to future growth and structural transformation unless serious measures are taken to convert it into a population dividend,” explains the report, which adds that even in densely populated Kampala, 85 per cent of households rely on pit latrines.

Comparing Uganda’s socio economic indicators with those of other countries in Africa and Asia that have lower population growth rates, the report says Uganda’s high population growth rate exacerbates poverty and constrains the household’s and the government’s efforts to provide quality social services such as education and health.

“The problem with a fast-growing population is not the growth itself, but “rapid, unplanned growth,” concludes the report. “It is conceded that growth is a natural process that guarantees continuity of existence of living things. However, the process of growth is determined by important variables, which include; age structure, sex and distribution. The decisions and policies we make today, and the options available to young people, will ultimately determine the quality of the population in 2050.”

In his statement, however, Mr Mbabazi said the government is now closely monitoring the country’s population trends, “not only in numbers but also in terms of what implications such numbers mean to the provision of services such as health, education, housing, food, [and] employment.”


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