We can turn vast population from a liability into an asset

15Nov 2019
Editor
The Guardian
We can turn vast population from a liability into an asset

THROUGHOUT history, communities and nations have grappled with challenges relating to what to do with the needs and interests of the population.

It is an especially relevant question today, considering how the spread of education and information is pressuring the state to respond to the voices of the citizenry.

The pervasive opinion is that belief in government remains solid, that the government is seriously addressing issues of relevance to the people but amid doubts regarding the level of the performance of some of its institutions in delivering on promises, expectations and projections.

This becomes all the more pertinent if the government is called upon to stare in the face the challenges population growth poses – which means that it has to cope with more and more people with respect to the provision of basic needs and essential services, including employment.

Problems with leadership, and not always population growth, commonly constitute a major reason for disorientation when it comes to economic policy formulation and implementation.

Some analysts argue that the population growth in Tanzania is too rapid relative to economic growth rate, and they believe this impedes efforts to ensure that children access better education and participate more meaningfully in development activities.

In other words, they would be much happier were the government to prevent population growth from outpacing or outstripping economic growth.

This is the view of those who see a big population as a liability, and not an asset, for the country. It is that having a small population is necessarily better as it would mean that every citizen would end up with a big chunk of the national cake – if that cake were to be shared equitably among the population.

But that view could as well be skewed in that it could also mean that, thanks to through bad economic policies, the country would fail to use its vast population and the vast natural resources it is blessed with in propelling or boosting economic growth.

China has a whole quarter of the world’s population. But not only is it relatively self-sufficient in food but it is slowly but surely beating most Western countries especially Europe, where birth control has been in use for decades.

Haphazard birth control has resulted in some countries having to depend on imported workforces, in turn creating needless friction in the society.

But come to think of it, Tanzania’s population is as huge as generally argued – that is, relative to the country’s surface area. Considering its abundance of arable land, several freshwater lakes and a rich number of other natural resources, particularly minerals, Tanzania can present itself as poor only in the minds of intractable pessimists.

It is estimated that nearly 70 per cent of the country’s population is made up of people aged between 18 and 35 years – quite a potentially formidable workforce.

Yet, we all know the extent to which these young men and women contribute to seriously meaningful nation-building and why that extent leaves much to be desired!

Turning things around will be hugely costly, but it is a duty we need to fulfil through strategies we must devise as judiciously and implement as devotedly as the situation demands.

It can be done...but only we seriously ask ourselves – as a nation – why things are not moving to satisfaction, and decide to make things work.