•Kenya’s population, estimated at 47.6 million in 2019, is projected to reach 57.8 million by 2030, acting Economic Planning Secretary Timothy Gakuo said last week.
• A fast ballooning population does not necessarily make a country more attractive as a market.
Uganda will overtake Kenya’s population in the next seven years, making it the third most populous country in the East African Community, according to the latest projections.
Kenya’s population growth rate is declining while Uganda has one of the world’s fastest growing populations.
Kenya’s population, estimated at 47.6 million in 2019, is projected to reach 57.8 million by 2030, acting Economic Planning Secretary Timothy Gakuo said last week.
Uganda last conducted a national census in 2014 and put its population at 36 million. The next census will be conducted in May 2024.
The country’s population is currently estimated at about 45 million, and half of the citizens are below 18 years, UNFPA says. Uganda's population grows at a rate of three per cent and is estimated to reach 69.75 million people by 2030, according to the UNFPA.
Tanzania has the second biggest population in EAC, after the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 59.4 million people in 2021.
It is projected to reach 77.5 million people in 2030, the UN says.
“Since 2009, Kenya has registered improvement in demographic indicators with population size increasing with almost one million per year from 37.7 million in 2009 to 47.6 million in 2019. Kenya’s population is projected to reach 57.8 million by the year 2030,” Gakuo said.
A fast ballooning population does not necessarily make a country more attractive as a market.
Many economists say it is better to consider the adult population rather than the total population, as adults generally reflect those in society with the capacity to pay.
Gakuo said the proportion of Kenyans in working ages 15-64 increased from 53 per cent in 2009 to 57 per cent in 2019 per cent while the proportion of the population of the elderly aged 60 and above increased from five to 5.8 per cent.
“Kenya’s investment in health, education, economic and governance sectors offers an excellent opportunity for the country to harness the potential of young people in order to accelerate socio-economic development and well-being of her citizenry in the next few decades,” he said.
Investors also consider the size of the middle class, rather than the entire population, to identify the potential market size.
Kenya has East Africa’s largest middle class.
The World Bank identifies the middle class as those people earning between $10-50 per day. Kenya labels households with a monthly expenditure of between Sh46,356 and Sh184,394 in Nairobi to be middle class.
The Kenya Population Report 2023 is distilled from the annual World Population Report, which this year was titled “8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities: the case for rights and choices”.
The global report showed Tanzania is one of the eight countries that will account for half the projected growth in the global population by 2050. The others are the DR Congo (current population about 110 million), Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines), dramatically reordering the world’s ranking of most populous countries.
The UNFPA urged countries to stop anxiety about growing populations.
The new report revealed population anxieties are widespread and governments are increasingly adopting policies aimed at raising, lowering or maintaining fertility rates.
But efforts to influence fertility rates are very often ineffective and can erode women’s rights, according to UNFPA's State of World Population report.
The global calls for a radical rethink of how population numbers are framed – urging politicians and media to abandon overblown narratives about population booms and busts.
“Women’s bodies should not be held captive to population targets,” UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem says.
“To build thriving and inclusive societies, regardless of population size, we must radically rethink how we talk about and plan for population change.”
The report shows 44 per cent of partnered women and girls in 68 reporting countries do not have the right to make informed decisions about their bodies when it comes to having sex, using contraception and seeking health care; and an estimated 257 million women worldwide have an unmet need for safe, reliable contraception.
History has shown that fertility policies designed to increase or lower birth rates are very often ineffective and can undermine women’s rights.
Many countries have rolled out programmes to engineer larger families by offering financial incentives and rewards to women and their partners, yet they continue to see birth rates below two children per woman. And efforts to slow population growth through forced sterilisation and coercive contraception have grossly violated human rights.
The report strongly recommends governments institute policies with gender equality and rights at their heart, such as parental leave programmes, child tax credits, policies that promote gender equality in the workplace, and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
These offer a proven formula that will reap economic dividends and lead to resilient societies able to thrive no matter how populations change