High population growth could slow development - gov't

Ethiopia's high population growth is a major challenge to the country's development and could slow down efforts to alleviate poverty, the finance ministry said in a report.

Ethiopia's population stands at 75 million, with 2.5 million babies born every year, according to the study on the impact of the high population growth on economic development, released on Monday.

"The population growth, which has become a development threat to the government, has been given due attention in the five-year development strategy of the government," said Sufian Ahmed, Ethiopia's Minister for Finance and Economic Development, at the launch of the report.

Nearly 44 percent of Ethiopia's population was younger than 15, compared with 3.1 percent over the age of 65, reflecting high levels of dependency. Only 16 percent of the population lived in urban areas, according to the report.

The high population growth rate was also responsible for the large number of the people dependent on food aid. Between 7 and 8 million people are estimated to experience recurring food shortages, according to the report.

The report underscored the need to promote the use of contraceptives in a bid to curb population growth. "The unmet need for contraception is still estimated at about 26 percent," the report added.

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