BY ALEX DADAMU
It is projected that at the current population growth rate, Solomon Islands population will reach 1.37 million people by 2050, roughly double the current estimated population, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said at the recent Young Entrepreneurs Council of Solomon Islands (YECSI) Awards night.
Prime Minister Sogavare said that the according to the current population projection indicator, the country will surpass the 1 million people mark by 2031 making Solomon Islands the second most populated country in the Pacific, at that point.
“These population figures ladies and gentlemen mean that in the next 28 years to 2050, Solomon Islands will produce another 600 to 700,000 people. We currently produce 50 childbirths every day, equivalent to two classrooms every day, or one new primary school every week, or one new primary and secondary, secondary school every two weeks.
“It is worrying as the current annual birth rate is at 18,000, which is more than the total population of Cook Islands and Niue put together,” Sogavare said.
He pointed out that these are concerning statistics as the growing population is putting a lot of pressure on this country’s service delivery.
“If we do not decentralize development to our provinces, we will have a repeat of what happened in 1998 except that it will be much larger, and the scale of what might occur will make what occurred in 1998 appear insignificant.
“What needs to be asked is “if we are struggling with the current population of below 700,000 people today, how will the country support a population that is double our current population in 30 years? How can we prepare a development platform that will support this future population? Prime Minister Sogavare posed.
He however pointed out that the silver lining on the cloud is that, “our population is a young one and that can be productive.
“That silver line is, 70% of our total population is below the age of 35 years.
“The challenge is tapping into our human resources resource to make it productive and this is where I believe YECSI plays a very significant and critical role,” Sogavare said.