By Innocent Anguyo
LATEST statistics from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) reveal that the country’s population growth rate has plummeted from 3.2% in 2002 to 3% today.
The new population growth figure was revealed at a public symposium organised by UBOS at Statistics House to discuss results of the 2014 national census.
However, experts warned that the population growth rate had not declined enough to enable Uganda to reap demographic dividend.
Demographic dividend is defined by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as, “the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).”
“As women and families realize that fewer children will die during infancy or childhood, they will begin to have fewer children to reach their desired number of offspring, further reducing the proportion of non-productive dependents,” said Dr. John Ssekamatte, the head of population and social sector planning at the National Planning Authority (NPA).
“This fall is often accompanied by an extension in average life expectancy that increases the portion of the population that is in the working age-group. This cuts spending on dependents and spurs economic growth.”
Ssekamatte subsequently expressed concern that Uganda’s high population growth rate fuelled by a high fertility rate of 6.2 children per woman (second highest rate in the world) was proving to be a derailment to progress.
He noted that Uganda’s high population growth rates, especially that carried by surging teenage pregnancy levels led to a high dependency ratio- a factor he warned could prove to be a stumbling block to rapid economic growth.
“Teenagers who are yet dependents produce more dependants, further multiplying the dependency. Women’s contribution to economic growth is reduced because they have stay at home to look after many children while men’s income has to go to family consumption,” Ssekamatte. He said that Uganda’s population was projected to hit 40 million in 2020.
John Mushomi a lecturer at Makerere University’s school of statistics and planning said Uganda’s uneven population distribution structure as established by last year’s census called for revision of planning.
Alex Mineja from the private sector urged UBOS to quicken release of the final figures for last year’s census, saying the statistics were required for planning.
Ben Paul Mungyereza the executive director of UBOS assured Ugandans that the final results for census would be issued in December.
Godfrey Nabongo, the UBOS communications manager, said they would soon issue results of the post enumeration survey which was used to establish the number of Ugandans who were not counted during the census. Preliminary census results put the number of Ugandans at 34.9 million.