Egypt says its population passes 100 million

Photo: AFP

Egypt's population has passed 100 million, its statistics agency said Tuesday, highlighting the threat of overpopulation in a poverty-stricken country where many live in crowded megacities.

The North African country retains its position as the most populous Arab nation and Africa's third most populous country behind Nigeria and Ethiopia.

A counter installed atop the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) ticked over into nine digits for the first time, the agency said.

A new baby is born in Egypt roughly every 17.9 seconds, the statistics body calculated.

Gomaa Shehata, a 33-year-old cafe worker in an upmarket Cairo suburb who hails from an impoverished area of the capital, became a father for the second time to a son last week.

"All I want from life is for my children to grow up with clothes on their backs and to be healthy," he told AFP.

His monthly wage of 2200 pounds ($140), plus the tips he relies on from serving his customers drinks and coals for their shisha pipes, barely sustains his family.

Nearly one in three Egyptians live below the poverty line, according to CAPMAS figures released last year.

The unemployment rate is around 10 percent, with millions leading precarious lives often without social protection in the informal economy.

"I'm really sick of life at the moment. I'd like to have a job where I can spend more quality time with my kids," Shehata said.

He currently works at least 16 hours a day without counting a taxing daily commute.

Birth rates in Egypt have skyrocketed in the past three decades with around 1.5 million babies born every year - but they have recently slowed down as Egypt's government has encouraged smaller families.

As with the majority of Arab countries, Egypt has a youthful population with just over 60 percent under the age of 30.

Most Egyptians live on a stretch of arable land along the River Nile that comprises eight percent of Egypt's territory.

The river, which Egypt shares with Sudan and Ethiopia, critically provides around 97 percent of Egypt's water needs.

But with high population densities in urban centres, urban planning is difficult.

 

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