Egypt's President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi
Egypt's President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi in a file photo. Image Credit: AFP

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sissi called on Tuesday for measures to slow the birthrate in the Arab world’s most populous country, citing China’s one-child policy as an example.

“We need 400,000 births per year,” said the leader of the country of 105 million inhabitants which recorded nearly 2.2 million births in 2022.

Al Sissi intervened when his minister of health and population, Khaled Abdul Ghaffar, told a conference that “having children is a matter of complete freedom”.

“I do not agree with your idea that having children is a matter of complete freedom,” the president said.

“Leaving their freedom to people who potentially do not know the extent of the challenge? In the end, it is the whole of society and the Egyptian state which will pay the price,” he said, during the worst economic crisis in the country’s history.

“We must organise this freedom otherwise it will create a catastrophe,” Sisi said.

“The Chinese made this decision in 1968” and in 2015, Beijing officially abandoned its one-child policy, allowing all married couples to have a second child.

“They succeeded in their population control policy,” Al Sissi said.

Al Sissi, a former army general who rose to the presidency in 2014 after Islamist president Mohammad Morsi was deposed, is expected to run for a third term at elections in early 2024.