8 December 2016

Sudan Should Exploit the Present Population Gift

Khartoum — Sudan is expected to see a population slowdown of 2.4% during the coming few years, according to UN recent estimates.

According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs/ Population Division said in a report entitled" World Population Prospects, the 2015 Revision", fertility rate of Sudanese women will drop from the current rate of 4.4% to 2.4 % by 2020, down to 2.15 in 2030 and down to 1.56% in 2050.

Sudan's overall fertility rate had dropped from 6.7 % in 1960 to about 4.4 % in 2014.

Sudan is considered a young nation where population at the age group 15-64 years is about 55.8%, age group 0-14 years 40.8 % and elders (65 years and above ) just 3.2 %.

Dr. Huda Mohamed Mukhtar, head section of quantification economics and statistics at the University of Khartoum said the government should observe the population component in all of its development plans. "We have to note that children now represent 42% of the population. They will reach youth age ten years from now and we should be prepared to accommodate them in the economy by that time," she said.

"These kids will by that time enter the job market and the state should strive to render them the best education service it could. Education outputs should answer the requirements of the job market. Due attention should be paid to technical education," adds Dr.Huda.

"Further, the state should guarantee the best health services to this group, so that they could grow up healthy and strong," she added.

Dr. Huda said the state should devise plans for attracting investments that can create lots of jobs. To do so, all the government sectors should work in full coordination, she said.

Dr. Huda has warned that the current population gift is short-lived and we should exploit it. Commonly, during such a population gift dependency ratio (proportion of non -working population) decreases while the number of working persons increases, a matter that helps with growth in savings that, in turn, necessitates generation of job opportunities for the workers who could increase production. This was what happened in East Asian nations that benefited from such a population gift.

Sudan's population, according to recent UN estimates, is 41.3 % million, representing 0.55 % of the world population. By that estimate, Sudan ranked 33 in the UN list of countries by population density.

One third of Sudan's population lives in urban areas. The rest lives in rural areas. Population density per square kilometer is 23 persons. Sudan's total area measures 1.7 million square kilometers.

Sudan's population is forecast to jump to 45.3 million in 2020, and 56.4 million in 2030 million and to 80 million in 2050.

Despite this relatively low population, an advantage missed by many countries, the Sudan faces a high unemployment rate and, accordingly, a high dependency rate, due to the dire economic situation and the ensuing high poverty rate.

Unemployment has reached 14.8% in the last ten years, according to the World Bank statistics and even larger among the youths (23.3 %).

Dr. Huda asserts that poverty leads to unemployment and vice versa. "It is a vicious circle that has to be broken ," she charges.

Here, Dr. Huda proposes short-term solutions: These could be increasing retirement age above 65, keeping rare qualifications in the public service even after retirement age and opening new government jobs.

At the medium and long terms, Dr. Huda advises investment in areas that can absorb a large number of people, the introduction of social development programs in the general development plan and a full coordination among ministries concerned with the population issues.

Economics Lecturer at the University of Khartoum Dr. Moslem al-Ameer said to get rid of the unemployment problem there is need to create a stable economy that, in its turn, leads to the creation of jobs in both public and private sectors. He said to move the economy we need to attract big investments in all economic sectors and to promote the infrastructure. This, he said, requires billions of dollars that can be obtained through "solving the external problems and strengthening foreign relations through political and diplomatic efforts on the one hand and introduction of many internal reform measures that could stabilize the economy."

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