The political debate about population growth has been going on for almost three hundred years now. Thomas Malthus, seen as the father of demography, obviously held the view that exponential population growth would outstrip improvements in agricultural production, condemning economies to a permanent state of subsistence.
Adam smith on the other hand says that economic growth and improvements in people’s socioeconomic state of affairs would trim down fertility rates overtime.
We see that great pressure is being exerted on arable land, water and biological resources to offer sufficient supply of food, while maintaining the integrity of our ecosystem most particularly in poor countries.
Basing on the different arguments on population growth, analysts say that any population growth rate of 0.5 percent or more is impoverishing. It is no coincidence that a country with high population growth rates tends to lag behind in terms of economic growth.
China is the only country which has began to grow after its birth rates fell steadily for about a decade.
We observe that the India growth rates fell before it started also to grow For example, Rwanda‘s current growth rate of 2.7 percent if not checked may depress the country’s economic growth.
So, the recent decision by parliament to address the population growth is a good move.
Our generation is experiencing the most profound demographic transition ever and Rwanda is at the center of it.
Rwanda’s population is rising and will most likely to double by 2022 according the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning statistics.
Other statistics on Africa show that the continent will soon pass 1 billion people. The world population prospects projects Africa to exceed 1.7 billion by 2050.
This makes it the fastest growing continent and Africa’s rapid population growth will also shift the global population balance.
It is probable that by 2050, Africa will be home of more than 20 percent of the world’s population. When some of us were born in 1970s, there were 2 Europeans for every African; by the time we retire from work force in 2030, there will be two Africans for every European.
Are we thus ahead of golden age of development in Africa?
It is possible but there is no guarantee. This will also depend on many other factors as well. As the last decades have shown, larger populations and increased density are no guarantee for success.
As a result of high population growth, housing may turn out to be an alarming issue.
More people may be crowded into less space which is not a good combination in any locality. So in the long-run, the effect of population growth may be substandard housing.
On the other end of the story, access to food and clean water may turn out to be a main issue.
Ngamije Festo is a journalist at The NewTimes.