Egypt is struggling to contain a population explosion that has surged in the past three years, exacerbating many of the social tensions that indirectly led to the 2011 uprising. The number of births in Egypt in 2012 was 560,000 higher than in 2010, according to the most recent statistics. It is the largest two-year increase since records began. The rise keeps Egypt on course to overtake countries such as Russia and Japan by 2050, when forecasters predict it will have more than 137.7 million people. “It’s the highest spike ever in all Egyptian history,” said Magued Osman, director of Egypt’s leading statistics firm, Baseera, and former head of a government thinktank. “It’s unheard of to have such a jump in a two-year period.”
The rising population is seen as a social timebomb which, if untackled, will exhaust Egypt’s depleted resources, worsen a dire jobs market, and contribute to yet more social frustration. With 60% of Egyptians under 30 already, a bulging population will further reduce the limited opportunities for young people.