Egypt’s fast-growing population has hit 100 million, its statistics agency said on Tuesday, presenting a pressing problem for an already overburdened country with limited resources.
The figure is an increase of 7 million since the publication of the last census results in 2017. Egypt’s population has tripled since 1960, with the annual growth rate peaking in 1987 at nearly 2.8 percent.
The North African country retains its position as the most populous Arab nation and Africa’s third most populous country behind Ethiopia and Nigeria.
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 baby is born in Egypt roughly every 17.9 seconds, the statistics body calculated.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly told a cabinet meeting last week that “population growth is the single largest challenge facing the state … and affects national security”.
The vast majority of the country’s population is crammed in urban areas around the Nile, some 7 percent of Egypt’s territory.
The lifeline, which Egypt shares with Sudan and Ethiopia, critically provides around 97 percent of Egypt’s water needs.
As with the majority of Arab countries, Egypt has a youthful population with just over 60 percent under the age of 30.
Around 10 million Egyptians live overseas, most of them in the Gulf in search of better economic opportunities. Their remittances have become an important source of income for Egypt.
Nearly a third of Egyptians live below the poverty line, according to CAPMAS figures released last year.
The unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent, with millions leading precarious lives often without social protection in the informal economy.