Ghana's population planning mistakes might negatively affect us soon

Overpopulation4 Population of Ghana in 2021: a total of 31 million or a total of 137 people living on 1 km2

Thu, 2 Sep 2021 Source: Nico van Staalduinen

Ghanaians, like other people around the world have heard about climate change, environmental problems and the changes the world needs to make, especially the fact that we need to go green.

But not many people, not even in the developed countries, who are the cause of all the changes (want to) understand where it all went wrong.

The root cause and reason we need to go green, stop eating meat, stop growing our economy, stop palm oil production, stop cutting our forests, go Eco and think of the environment is: OVERPOPULATION OF THE EARTH.

In Ghana, we love our meat, a large part of our population is still using charcoal and firewood, drinking from rivers and streams, hunting, canoe fishing and involved in petty farming etc.

All that need to change to use our environment better and prevent exhausting oxygen, soil and work smart to save Ghana, Africa and the planet,

I know the current problems on the environment are for over 90% created by the developed world and not by Africa. However, we all breathe the same air, so unfortunately the developed world has us by the “balls”.

They created a problem and we need to help solve it, and if it’s up to them they are not paying for it, despite the fact that we can’t afford it nor can we afford to stop our economy from growing.

However, there is one thing we, as Ghanaians and Africans can do and that is changing our mentality towards having too many children.

Just look at our Ghanaian population “explosion”: in the last 100 years:

Population of Ghana in 1921: a total of 2.3 million or a total of 10 people living on 1 km2a

Population at independence 1957: total of 6 million or a total of 26 people living on 1 km2

Population of Ghana in 1980: a total of 11 million or a total of 48 people living on 1 km2

Population of Ghana in 2000: a total of 19 million or a total of 83 people living on 1 km2

Population of Ghana in 2021: a total of 31 million or a total of 137 people living on 1 km2

Three million people can live a normal, African lifestyle. Cutting and burning land for farming, using firewood, having cattle and hunting. Even at a population of six million people that was still sustainable (I think) maybe even at 10 million, but not anymore with a population of 31 million.

If we continue growing like this, Ghana will have a population around 43 million in 2030 and hit the 50 million in the decade after that and over 220 people per m2. And more importantly, where does it stop?

The advantage of getting older is that you have hindsight and the opportunity to look back and think about your, and other peoples' mistakes.

I don’t say I have seen it all, but I have seen a lot of mistakes living in Europe that have been corrected whilst I was still living there and even until today living here.

When health care improved the world should have reduced "producing" children. The only reason that human beings are able to give birth so many times, is that we are genetically programmed that many of our offspring dies. Other mammals and all animals that are able to give birth many times also have a high reproductive capacity. Elephants and whales give birth only a few times in their lifespan. I know my own grandmother gave birth 13 times and "only" 6 survived. The developed world didn't step in, maybe because they didn't know at that time, but Africa could and should learn from their mistake, instead of repeating it.

The reason I am writing this article and referring to old mistakes being repeated is climate change, pollution and the need and push to change our day-to-day behaviour into an almost unnatural human behaviour to save the earth or at least life as we know it.


I know, children are a blessing, go and multiply, a young population is our strength, etc.

But how blessed are your children growing up in an overcrowded Ghana?

Except for President Rawlings' administration, none of the Governments after him has taken any steps to (at least) reduce our population growth or reduce our population.

Seemingly good intentions have been mixed with only one target for the last five elections.

Free school feeding, free school uniforms, free maternal care, free education and other measures to get children to attend school (which is important) have created a stimulus to get more children but above all the target was: winning an upcoming election.

And it has worked, the party promising the most freebees has always won the elections.

But there has been a side effect that all our studied and well-educated politicians forgot or didn’t care about and that is the consequence of what the average low or not educated Ghanaian is thinking about it after the elections.

I never limit myself to contact with expats, educated high class and so-called high-class Ghanaians. I always mix, listen and talk to Ghanaians of every class.

I hope politicians are reading and listening well at the following: My workers and friends of whom some never finished primary school more didn’t finish secondary school and only a few finished high schools have been telling me over the years:

to have children is ok because now we get everything free.

They rather complain that you still need to pay a few things and it’s not completely free.

The problem is not only a Ghanaian problem. The African continent had a population of 100 million people in 1900 and exploded to 1.2 billion in the year 2000.

But Africa can, just like China did, do something on the unlimited growth of our population.

We can and we should role our programs to reduce childbirth fast. After all, what is the use of Ghana’s economy developing whilst our income per capita is reducing? In simple words, what is the use of Ghana having a bigger cake but cutting it in smaller pieces.

The need of a young and strong population has enormously reduced by automation and computerization. Ghanaian youth do not want to, and do not need to farm anymore because of mechanization and increased yields of crops. We already see in society that more and more unemployed youth are involving themselves in crime, robberies, voodoo and other means to get rich.

Luckily in the developed world people have reduced childbirth and in some developed countries, the population has reduced already.

But we need to step it up and reduce our current population growth by making reducing population growth our next election slogan:

Free family planning, free anti-conception, (maybe free) abortion, when necessary, free education for first child only, second child pay 50%, any extra child pay yourself.

If we don’t manage this problem all Ghanaian meat lovers, fish lovers will need to turn into vegetarians and our politicians need to replace the 4x4’s they love so much with small electric vehicles.

Columnist: Nico van Staalduinen