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World Bank Warns of High Population Growth, Urges Multisectoral Approach

In a high fertility scenario, Tanzania's population is projected to swell to nearly 140 million by 2050. Putting excessive pressure on social services.

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Dar es Salaam. The World Bank launched its annual Tanzania Economic Update report on March 12, 2024, with a focus on overcoming demographic challenges while embracing opportunities. 

Unveiled at the Hyatt Hotel in Dar es Salaam, the report underscores that Tanzania’s population is poised to double every 23 years. In a scenario characterized by high fertility rates, the population is projected to swell to nearly 140 million by 2050. This serves as a cautionary signal, indicating an impending surge in demand for social services and employment opportunities.

The 2022 Population and Housing Census, Tanzania put Tanzania’s population to a total of 61.7 million. Therefore, by the year 2050, which is 26 years from now, it is estimated that the population will increase to 78.3 million people.

Providing some examples the report shows that, the annual cost of public education will rise from the current 3.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 4.1 percent under the high fertility rate scenario but could drop to 2.9 percent under the low fertility scenario by 2061. 

Also, the total cost of vaccinating children and adolescent girls against HPV will range from US dollars 718 million under the low fertility scenario and US dollars 1.3 billion under the high fertility rate scenario in 2061. 

Due to this situation, the report has proposed that Tanzania implement policy changes aimed at ensuring that girls complete secondary education to reduce the number of those giving birth at a young age. Additionally, the report recommends an increase in family planning services and empowering women economically as well as calling for a national dialogue on the demographic agenda.

The World Bank Country Director, Nathan Belete, highlighted the need to have multisectoral coordination in tackling demographic challenges. This includes collaboration of essential ministries such as finance, education, health, gender, and others. It also entails the involvement of religious and traditional leaders, civil societies, parliamentarians, and policymakers.

“The World Bank is committed to working with the government of Tanzania and all stakeholders both in mainland and Zanzibar along with our development partners to ensure Tanzania sees the opportunity to overcome demographic challenges for sustainable economic growth and development,” explained Mr Belete

“We believe that investing in the health, education, and skills of young people will provide a solid foundation for a thriving future,” Belete said.  

Economic situation 

The report also shows that despite the decline of the national poverty rate from an estimated 27 percent in 2022 to about 26.5 percent in 2023. The number of people living in poverty has increased to 15 million people in 2022.

This is mainly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises which forced more people to join in low-level agricultural production for their survival.

Moreover, while the economy is growing from 4.6 percent in 2022 to 5.2 percent in 2023, this growth is mainly driven by the service sector which employs a small number of the population. Agriculture which employs the majority of the population has faced some setbacks in 2023 due to floods and droughts which destroyed livestock and production farms.

Speaking during the launch of the report as the guest of honor, the Minister of the Office of the President for Planning and Investment, Kitila Mkumbo, stated that three-quarters of the population in the country, equivalent to 76 percent, are youth under the age of 35. Among them, 19 percent are students.

Mkumbo further explained that 65 percent of Tanzanians are also located in rural areas. Therefore, as a government, they are looking into plans that will target youth and people residing in rural areas.

“In the context of high fertility rate education remains the key in terms of going forward. Because we know that high education outcomes are related to low fertility rates.” 

“The government is once again prioritizing family education programs, reproductive health education programs. We were once champions of family planning in this continent and I think we are going back to that aspect,” Mkumbo concludes. 

Lukelo Francis is The Chanzo’s journalist from Dar es Salaam. He is available at lukelo@thechanzo.com 

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