The World Bank launches a report entitled Achieving the Demographic Dividend in the Arab Republic of Egypt: Choice, Not Destiny with the attendance of the bank s Human Development Vice President Mamta Murthi and a number of Egyptian ministers. Cabinet
The 189-paper report, prepared by a team of Egyptian and WB experts, shows that Egypt has the political will, resources, and capacity to achieve its demographic dividend in the next decade despite a reversal in its earlier fertility decline.
The UN defines demographic dividend as the “economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older)”
This means that a country with a growth in young people and decline in fertility is capable of reaping demographic dividend.
In a tweet, Murthi hailed the report as “attesting to the strong technical collaboration between the World Bank and Egypt”.
The report reviews factors and social drivers related to Egypt’s fertility decline reversal as well as the economic impact of the demographic changes in the country, the Bank said.
The report proposes six policy and strategic priorities that aim to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate, reduce school dropouts, increase female labour, delay early marriage, enhance social protection, and improve governance of the population programme in the country.
The Bank added that Egypt’s presidential Decent Life (Hayah Karima in Arabic) initiative and the National Project for the Development of the Egyptian Family can serve as the platform to implement many of the proposed policies and strategies.
“In such a manner, Egypt will be back on track to achieve its demographic dividend,” the Bank said.
The Decent Life project was initiated experimentally in 2019 by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and its first phase was officially launched in July 2021.
The initiative aims to improve standards of living, infrastructure and basic services, including healthcare across the countryside. It covers 4,658 villages across the country, which are home to 58 percent of Egypt’s 103-million population.
Social protection relies on achieving social justice, said Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbaj during a conference to launch the report.
Around 68 percent of social protection programmes is directed for rural areas, where poverty prevails, El-Qabbaj said, adding that 74 percent of women have access to the programmes.
Furtheremore, 45 percent of the beneficiaries from the cash support programme Takaful and Karama (Solidarity and Dignity) are below 24 years of age, the minister said, adding that those below 18 represent 36 percent of beneficiaries.
The Ministry of Social Solidarity has also managed to reduce illiteracy under the Takaful and Karama programme, as 60 percent of the beneficiaries were illiterate, El-Qabbaj said.
In December, the World Bank announced $500 million in financing dedicated to expanding and strengthening the Takaful and Karama programme.
There is a direct relationship between the spread of poverty and the size of the family, El-Qabbaj said.
She added that the ministry has worked to correct misconceptions and wrong beliefs that are common in the society under the Waai programme launched in cooperation with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in 2020.
The ministry also provides access for family planning methods for free and has launched “Two is Enough” programme that aims to curb population growth among families, El-Qabbaj stressed.
The ministry also opens new nurseries in order to give women the opportunity to work as this would help achieve economic empowerment for families, El-Qabbaj added.
Minister of Health and Population Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of Education Reda Hegazy, Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development Ahmed Kamali, and a group of World Bank experts attended the conference.
Fertility decline, overpopulation
The fertility rate per woman in Egypt declined in 2021 to 2.8, a 20 percent drop from the 3.5 births per woman figure in the last survey conducted in 2014, the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) said in August. New births registered 2.159 million in 2021 -- down three percent from 2020, added CAPMAS.
However, the WB report says Egypt has gone off track to achieve its demographic dividend at the turn of this century due to a reversal in its earlier fertility decline.
The Egyptian population currently stands at more than 104.5 million, CAPMAS reported.
Over the past years, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has reiterated the necessity to reduce annual population growth rate to 400,000 in order for citizens to reap the fruits of development efforts.