Very often, a developed or well-established economy has a sustainable population because its natural resources, infrastructures and institutional mechanisms are adequate for the population.
However, developing and under-developed countries experience different situations where large populations are forced to share and depend on limited resources.
Population growth is about the extent of the number of individuals in a given area or country; and a country’s population indices are a major determinant in its development or under development status.
It is arguable that a country’s population can be uncontrollably increased by broken homes, teenage pregnancies, lack of family planning or low usage of contraceptives, low level of education, inadequate women empowering, poverty, non-existence or weak birth control laws, child marriages and rape.
High population numbers do place further strain on the natural resources, food and fuel supplies, existing infrastructure, employment and housing amongst others especially in developing and under-developed countries.
It also promotes poverty, famine, diseases, pollution and destruction of the environment, social vices, increased rate of unemployment, inefficiency in labour force, decline in social infrastructure, high rates of dependency and decline in the trend of agricultural development.
These factors amongst others when controlled can sustain a country’s development agenda or policy implementations, and similarly negatively affect national development when overlooked.
Ideally, a country’s natural resources should increase as its population increases to ensure that its citizens live in comfort and share adequate resources and infrastructure; but what is often the case is that the natural resource is always on the decline whiles the population rises.
According to the Ghana Statistical Service, the 2010 population and housing census showed that the total population of Ghana as at September 26, 2010 was 24,658,823. This shows that Ghana’s population increased by 30.4 per cent over the 2000 population figure of 18,912,079.
And the recorded annual intercensal growth rate in 2010 was 2.5 per cent as against 2.7 per cent recorded in 2000.
The results revealed that there were 12,633,978 females and 12,024,845 males. This implied that, females constituted 51.2 per cent of the population and males 48.4 per cent, resulting in sex ratio of 95 males to 100 females.
It also showed increase in population density from 79 people per square kilometres in 2000 to 103 per square kilometres in 2010.
From the final results, Greater Accra (16.3 per cent) and Ashanti, (19.4 per cent) Regions had the greater share of the population while, Upper East (4.2 per cent) and Upper West (2.8 per cent) Regions had the smaller share of the population.
According to the World Population Review, Ghana’s population in 2018 was 29,774,143 and the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area has about four million inhabitants which makes it the 11th largest metro area in Africa.
However, the nation has not had any substantial economic growth to match the current population, a situation that is placing intense strain on its natural resources and making life challenging for many.
Economic growth is a sustained effort of a country’s public and private sector that enhances the standard of living of its citizens and promotes the economy.
A recent report released by the Ghana Statistical Services has revealed that Ghana as at December 2018, had a population of over 30 million people. And the concern is, whether the country has been able to mobilise adequate resources to sustain the population.
How many youth have graduated from tertiary institutions without jobs; how many Senior High School leavers are roaming on the streets idle; how many people have completed nursing and other training institutions without jobs; how many illiterates and literates are engaged in all manner of illegal activities due to lack of jobs and means of survival?
Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, the Executive Director of the National Population Council, said: “We are third world because we prefer quantity to quality and we will remain third world until we start cherishing proper long-term investment in human capital. We can’t get far without serious commitment to family planning”.
She said economic development is nearly impossible between two to four percent of population growth. Unfortunately, population growth rate for many countries in Sub Saharan Africa is two to four per cent, it therefore doesn’t surprise me that we are so poor”.
Madam Abena Adubea Amoah Acheampong, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said teenage pregnancy stands at 14 per cent, meaning that out of every 100 young girls, 14 of them get pregnant and lose out the possibility of achieving their dreams.
She said the total fertility rate in Ghana is 3.9 children per woman but development in terms of housing infrastructure, schools, clinics etc., are in deficit in proportion to the population growth rate.
Other factors are high rates of unemployment among the youth, high rates of illiteracy, inadequate technological know-how, corruption, inflation, bribery, poor supervision at work places, and lack of incentives for workers in organisations, she said.
This has led to a setback in terms of socio-economic development, even though, past governments have undertaken initiatives to establish more infrastructure, the population keeps increasing, thereby placing the development of the nation at a standstill.
In the area of lands and forest reserves, the growing population is accompanied by the eagerness of many citizens to build houses of their own and thereby acquiring lands meant to be used as forest reserves from families and land owners.
This has affected the environment and the economy as not only forests, but farms are also destroyed just to make ways for individuals and estate developers to construct their buildings.
One of the steps the country could undertake is to identify ways of controlling the rampant population growth, corruption and crime.
Among the factors that could control population growth are education, eradication of poverty, women empowerment, eradication of child marriages, legislative actions, high taxation of parents with many children, reducing infant mortality, family planning, increasing employment opportunities for women and improved incomes.
The youth should be educated on the challenges associated with procreating many children, indulging in unprotected and premarital sex, and the importance of choosing the right partners.
Teenagers, many of whom have become more sexually active, have developed the zeal and curiosity to indulge in sexual relations just for the fun of it; and for the females its often for materialistic support from their male partners with no idea of protecting their integrity, pride and dignity.
Women empowering programmes must be promoted to help young women identify their potential and there is the need to fight towards achieving them to enhance their lives.
Government should enforce strict laws to discourage families from giving out their daughters into early and forced marriages. This would control population growth and the idea of a ‘child parenting a child’.
Strict and enforced legislative action must be taken to control the birth rate. And there could be an introduction of high taxation of parents with many children to discourage them from having more children.
Birth control or family planning methods should be promoted in cities and remote areas at affordable prices for families and couples to access it. The state could subsidise the cost of accessing family planning methods for the ordinary citizen.
The government and nongovernmental organisations also need to consider revising the wages and salaries of its workers and create more informal employment opportunities for the youth to enable them cater well for their children.
This would reduce the number of children on the streets that end up in immoral and illegal activities.
Hopefully, the consideration of the points discussed amongst others, could inform the on-going dialogue of our population growth and development.