The president of Tanzania is urging females to have more children to help boost the economy, despite having one of the highest birth rates in the world.
John Magufuli claimed that countries with a higher birth rate like China, India and Nigeria, have reaped economic benefits and called on Tanzanian women to let their ovaries free.
“When you have a big population you build the economy. That’s why China’s economy is so huge,” said Magufuli while speaking in his hometown of Chato on Tuesday.
“I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs,” he added. Critics have said the solution would actually lead to increased levels of poverty and income inequality.
Tanzania, a country of 55 million people already has one of the highest birth rates in the world, averaging at about 5 children per woman. The comments echo Magufuli’s previous remarks, in which he said contraceptives were for “those too lazy to take care of their children.”
Data from the UN population fund UNFPA shows Tanzania’s population is growing by about 2.7 per cent a year while most public hospitals and schools are overcrowded and many young people lack jobs.
UNFPA says about a third of married women in Tanzania use contraceptives, but Magufuli has criticized Western-backed family planning programs implemented by the health ministry.
While Tanzania’s poverty rate – people living on less than $1 a day – has declined to about 26 per cent as of 2016, the absolute number of poor citizens has not because of the high population growth rate, according to the World Bank.