What Census Data Means for Tanzania’s Economy
Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s population growth rate of 3.2% presents both opportunities and challenges for the country’s development efforts, analysts said yesterday, shortly after President Samia Suluhu Hassan revealed the population was increased to 61,741,120 people (61.74 million) this year.
Depending on the type of development model a country wishes to pursue, a rapid population growth rate can be good or bad for the economy, which served as a basis for analysts who expressed their different views to the Citizen yesterday.
The first group of economists argues that rapid population growth makes it harder for low-income and lower-middle-income countries like Tanzania to sustain the increase in public spending per capita.
This, they say, makes it increasingly difficult to eradicate poverty, end hunger and malnutrition and ensure universal access to health care, education, water and other essential services.
On the contrary, the other school of economists says that a large population translates into more workers and more consumers who provide a good market for locally produced goods for the general good of the economy.
For the latter, China and India, which now respectively occupy the second and fifth positions with the largest economies in the world, are a striking example.
Revealing the results of the 2022 Population and Housing Census in Dodoma yesterday, President Samia Suluhu Hassan said that while data does not appear to be a problem for a huge country like Tanzania, it also poses a challenge in the delivery of social services.
“Population may not appear as a problem for a big country like ours, but it is also a big burden for the economy. We now need concrete plans on how to serve these 61 million of Tanzanians,” President Hassan said.
She said that it is estimated that in 2025 Tanzania will be home to 67.96 million people and by 2050 there will be 151.252 million people in the country.
According to analysts, with the economy growing at 4.7% per year, the annual population growth rate of 3.2% on average would deter the country from making significant gains in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.
But on the other hand, it would be a factor in improving agricultural and industrial production due to the availability of sufficient labor.
An agricultural trade economist from the University of Dodoma (UDOM), Dr Lutengano Mwinuka, said population growth offers an opportunity by providing a larger pool of human capital.
It is through the skill set, creativity, innovation and education of human capital that the economy derives its growth.
“For example, in agriculture, we have a lot of unused land across the country. From census data, we can identify the size of the working age group and skill composition and thus we can appropriately develop economic development strategies,” he said.
Dr Mwinuka said that according to the census, educational attributes such as school attendance, educational attainment and literacy will also provide the government with an opportunity to plan for the appropriate skills needed for demographics and how which these skills can translate into development.
“By closing the skills gaps, we will increase employability and increase the number of taxpayers in the country,” Dr Mwinuka said.
Dar es Salaam remains the most populous city in Tanzania. With 5,383,728 inhabitants, its inhabitants represent 8.7% of the Tanzanian population.
Mwanza, which is also the second largest city and second largest contributor to GDP after Dar es Salaam, has 3,699,872 people or 6% of the total population.
This rapid growth in urban population has been caused by factors such as the prospect of additional employment, access to medical care, and the general attractions of city life.
With 893,169 inhabitants, Mjini Magharibi of Zanzibar is the most populated urban area of the islands, accounting for 47.3% of the archipelago’s total population of 1,889,763 people.
While the splintering of cities can facilitate and stimulate financial and economic growth by increasing demand, it puts pressure on social services such as water, health and education, among others, said an economist, Dr. Wilhelm Ngasamiaku from the University of Dar es Salaam.
Although reports of the census results have yet to be made public, Dr Ngasamiaku said it would be important for the country’s economic strategies to also focus on the age structure of the population.
“In previous censuses, for example, we have seen that people under 15 and children represent the majority of the population. This means that as a country you need to invest more in social services because the demand for health and education will increase,” he said.
“But if the majority are in the working age group of 15-59, that means we’re going to have to revise our economic strategy to make sure we create more decent job opportunities,” Dr Ngasamiaku added.
Mzumbe University economist Dr Daudi Ndaki says that so far the Tanzanian government seems to have strategic plans for the growing populations.
“The President has repeatedly emphasized that our population growth should complement available resources and we have also seen this mentioned in some of the short and long term national plans.” “I think the government is well prepared to handle population growth,” he said. In terms of the increase in numbers over a ten-year period, Dr Ndaki said it revealed how well-endowed Tanzania is.
The United Nations World Population Prospects 2022 report shows that while the current world population is estimated at eight billion, the world population could reach around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050.
According to the UN, countries in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contribute more than half of the projected increase through 2050.
In the organization’s statement, the UN emphasizes that investing in human capital can be a good strategy for countries to benefit from population growth.
This can be done by ensuring access to quality health care and education at all ages, and by promoting opportunities for productive employment and decent work.
Yesterday, President Samia Suluhu Hassam revealed that the country’s population had increased by 37.4% from the 44,928,923 people (44.92 million) recorded a decade ago in the 2012 national census.
Understanding the importance of data, the President also highlighted the government’s commitment to integrating census data into national development plans, through a special ten-year directive which was also launched yesterday.
“This guideline will help in monitoring and evaluating the targets set in the development plans on both sides of the union as well as the international plans that Tanzania has agreed to implement,” she said.
While 59.851 million people reside in mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar is home to 1.89 million individuals.
In terms of gender, there are 31.688 million women in Tanzania, which is 51% of the total population while 30.053 million are men.
Speaking at the event, the UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania, Mr. Zlatan Milisic, said that through mapping, census data could show where special attention was needed to close the development gap between different places and groups.
The census exercise, Mr. Milisic said, could also help in understanding the impact of population growth on the country’s resources and in the successful implementation of the UN strategy. Sustainable Development Goals.
Earlier, the Chief Statistician and Head of National Statistics (NBS), Dr Albina Chuwa, said the 2022 Population and Housing Census was conducted to the highest standards and following international best practices. She said that through the census, the government now has all relevant data for Tanzanians, including those who run small businesses. This, she said, would allow them to easily obtain loans from commercial banks.