It’s official: Malawi’s population has now hit the 17 million mark, Nation on Sunday can reveal the development, which Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe has said is scary while Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) has called it a social and economic disaster.
The new population figure is in line with a projection made by National Statistical Office (NSO) two years ago.
In its latest report released a fortnight ago, NSO indicates that the current total population for the country should be 17 663 620.
According to World Bank data, Malawi’s new population figure represents 0.45 percent of the world’s population.
According to NSO, Malawi has now over male 8 730 731 males and females 8 932 889 respectively.
The Finance Minister has confirmed the population boom and described it as a negative thing in as far as the country’s economy is concerned.
“As I see it, we do not have much productivity and it is a negative thing because we have more people to feed and income per capita is expected to be reduced,” Gondwe said in an interview.
According to Gondwe, the population boom is scaring and calls for intensified family planning.
One of Malawi’s economists and business columnist, Alick Nyasulu, has said the implications of the increase in populations are that farm land is being lost to housing as the poor sell their land to the rich.
“It is time land is not wasted. For example, the country now should have laws that compel property developers to build high rise buildings to have more space, instead of the wastage that we see.
“No one should be allowed to build a one-storey mall or commercial property in urban centres,” he said.
On his part, Ecama president Henry Kachaje said the rise in population is of great concern because it puts pressure on natural and financial resources.
He said, being an agri-based economy, there is more pressure on land which is a critical economic resource which the country is failing to put to good use.
“If Malawi was failing to feed its people when the population was 15 million, it is not surprising to hear that about three million Malawians are threatened with hunger this year. This is a worrying trend and it requires urgent action,” he said.
Kachaje, has since said there is need to open up conversation as a nation on population growth and its impact on the economy.
“We need to sensitise people on the need to have smaller and manageable families. If need be, a legislation to limit the number of children to three per family might be a step in the right direction,” he said.
According to the latest World Bank report, total population in Malawi was last recorded at 16.8 million people in 2014, from 3.5 million in 1960, representing a 377 percent increase in 50 years.
The Malawi population is projected to be over 30 million by 2040. n