PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete said on Monday evening that Tanzania is headed for a bleak economic future if the current population growth rate is allowed to escalate unchecked.
The galloping national population stands at about 45 million people at the moment. Given the current population growth rate the national head count will stand at 51 million in 2016 and this will be a huge burden to national economy and society generally.
The president says that it will be quite difficult to cater for such a huge population. The government, he said, must come up with clear-cut strategies that will help check the population boom. The president is right. The already alarmed government should reverse all policies that encourage or accept large families.
Already contraception, which is one of the best solutions to the problem, is widely encouraged but it hardly exists in rural areas. In urban centres, where economic hardships are already biting, smaller families are seen as a key to salvation. So, Tanzania has close to 45 million people.
This is something akin to a population explosion. Knowledge of the population is highly critical to national development. This figure will aid economic growth, development and adequate provision of social services. If we don't know what the nation's population is, the government cannot budget properly and effectively for provision of services.
So, there would always be a shortage of everything - electricity, water, transport, roads, education and health services. If demands are higher than what the government can provide, schools will not cope, hospitals will fail, there won't be enough housing and not much will be done to steer forward economic development.
Population explosion or not, the truth is that in Tanzania, we do love having children; whether we have the means to love and look after them well or not. It is a status symbol in most tribal settings in this country. No-one is against anyone having children. But this message must sink in the best interest of national welfare -- it is wise for Tanzanians to see the need to have just the number of children they can conveniently offer a meaningful life to.
And with the now numerous universities in the country, graduates are poured into the streets every year to chase jobs that are not just available. And this is not the end of the story. Other jobless youths are generated by the thousands of primary schools, secondary schools and colleges.
No wonder that unwanted pregnancies, deaths from abortions and abandoned babies are increasing. In the same token, a sharp increase in criminal activities, militancy, violence at home and on the streets has been registered. In fact, frustration from poverty and unemployment can trigger off any negative emotion. It is time the state took appropriate action.