Tanzania’s president has urged his country’s women to “set your ovaries free” and have more children in a bid to boost the economy.
John Magufuli said a higher population could turn the East African nation into a regional powerhouse, but critics warned it would instead worsen inequality and poverty.
Since taking office in 2015, the president has presided over a campaign of industrialisation that has helped buoy economic growth. But Mr Magufuli claimed a higher birth rate would stimulate faster progress.
“When you have a big population you build the economy. That’s why China’s economy is so huge,” he said, citing India and Nigeria as other examples of countries that gained from a demographic dividend.
Speaking in his home town of Chato on Tuesday, he added: “I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs.”
The nation has 55 million people already and is one of the world’s highest birth rates, at around 5 children per woman while most public hospitals and schools are overcrowded and many young people are unemployed.