Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli. Picture: Soliman Elotafy/Xinhua/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg – The Egyptian government is planning new population control policies that could be introduced as early as next year with the help of American funding.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli recently announced that starting in January the government will no longer provide welfare payments to families with more than two children, while simultaneously offering to provide economic incentives to one-child families.

“The government has decided not to give any kind of monetary subsidies to families with three children. We will target these families, and all should know that the runaway growth of population is a big threat to the economic development in this country,” Madbouli said on 22 November.

The US government will be supporting the measures in some part by giving money towards programmes that seek to increase contraceptive use in Egypt with a view to population control, Mecatornet reported on Thursday.

On Sunday Egypt’s health affairs committee approved an $11 million aid package from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

The population of Egypt is 100 135 720 as of Wednesday, 5 December, based on the latest United Nations estimates. The unemployment rate rose to 10 percent in the third quarter of 2018 from 9.9 percent in the previous period. Literacy rates are around 75 percent.

The World Bank calculates that about 40 percent of the population is poor. This represents 28 million people, of whom 2.6 million (3.8 percent of the population) are categorised as "extremely poor" with 34 percent of Egyptians having less than $1 a day to spend, and 42.8 percent live on $2 a day or less.

Egypt’s current fertility rate is estimated to be about 3.5 children per woman, higher than the record low fertility rates across the world at the moment.

The cash incentives for those families who only have one child include free school tuition throughout the entire course of their education, giving only-children priority when applying for a job when they reach employment age, and giving one-child parents fully subsidised health insurance and free life insurance upon retirement, the Mecatornet reported 

Egypt’s high birth rate has often been motivated by those living in rural areas wanting a large family to help with labour-intensive farm work.

African News Agency/ANA