Ethiopian population lower but still alarming

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Ethiopia’s population growth has decreased by more than half to 1.3 per cent every year, compared to the 3 per cent growth rate it posted in the early 1980s while the national population is much lower than previously expected, a new census shows.

However, with the rate of population growth substantially reduced, the country continues to record close to one million new births every year, while the national population has officially been confirmed to stand at 73 million, 20.4 million more than the last census.

Ethiopia’s last population census was taken in 1995 but the 2007 census, which has returned a national tally of 73 million, is lower than the 76 million previously focused.

Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Leggasse who headed a high-level parliamentary team , which oversaw the census, told parliament late Thursday, the country’s population had expanded by over 20 million in the last few years.

Ethiopia’s population constitutes mainly the youth, aged averagely 18 years, which makes up about half of the population. The figures show the youth are about 38 million, according to local media reports.

Oromia, which neighbours the capital, Addis Ababa, is the country’s most populous state, with about 27 million people, closely followed by Ahmara state, whose population now stands at 17 million while the Southern Nations and Nationalities State have 15 million.

The new census unearthed what appears to be a major error in the previous one ca rried out in 1995 with its new findings showing the population of Ahmara region, one of the nine regional states, reported to be 2.4 million lower than the previous census.

State-run daily, the Ethiopian Herald, reported Friday the Deputy Prime Minister’s team had ordered a review of the region’s census to verify the results.

Ethiopia, thought to have one of Africa’s fastest growing populations, had a national population of 53 million people about 14 years ago.

The population has grown by more than 73 per cent within a span of 14 years, a sign that family planning campaigns appear to falter, according to calculations.

The population census report approved by the country’s parliament, shows the fer tility rate for the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa, which stood at 3 per cent in 1984, had decreased to slightly below 1.8 per cent and currently stands at 1.3 per cent according to the 2007 census.

If this rate is applied to the national population growth, the country’s hospitals should then prepare for the delivery of 960,000 babies every year, if safe motherhood campaigners are to be appeased.

Ethiopia’s Population and Housing Census Commission, which carried out the survey, said it took care of age, gender, religion to come up with figures, the Herald reported.

The country’s Central Statistical Agency Director-General Samia Zekaria says the new population census report did not include other indicators like employment figures, use of languages amongst the people, which it plans to undertake in subsequent reports.

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