There were 28.9 million people living in Mozambique in August 2017, according to preliminary results from the country’s Fourth National Population Census carried out in that month.
The figures, released on Friday, showed a population of 28,861,863 inhabitants. As expected, there are more women (15,061,006) than men (13,800,857).
The previous census, held in 2007, showed that the population then was 20.5 million. Thus, in the space of a decade, the Mozambican population has grown by 41 per cent, or by an average of over four per cent a year.
Population growth has accelerated. The first post-independence census, in 1980, showed a population of 12.1 million. By the time of the second census in 1997, the population had grown to 16.1 million.
Thus in the 17 years between 1980 and 1997, the population only grew by 33 per cent, or less than two per cent a year. The fact that the population in 1997 was about a million less than expected was due to the heavy mortality during the war of destabilisation waged by the South African apartheid regime against Mozambique between 1981 and 1992, and perhaps also to the onset of the AIDS epidemic.
Between 1997 and 2007 the population grew by 27.3 per cent, or over 2.7 per cent per year. The acceleration in the population growth rate should be cause for alarm, since it means that Mozambique needs an economic growth rate of over four per cent a year just to stand still.
The most populous of the provinces remains Nampula, in the north, with 6,102,867 inhabitants, followed by the central province of Zambezia, with 5,110,787. The western province of Tete is in third position, with 2,764,169 inhabitants.
The least populous province is Maputo City, with 1,101,170 inhabitants. There is a clear drift of population from Maputo to the neighbouring city of Matola, capital of Maputo province. Maputo province is now the most heavily populated province in the south of the country, with 2,507,098 inhabitants.
The other two southern provinces, Inhambane and Gaza, have 1,496,824 and 1,446,654 inhabitants respectively.
39 per cent of the total population is concentrated in Nampula and Zambezia, while the southern four provinces between them only account for 23 per cent of the population.
Speaking at the Friday ceremony presenting the results, the chairperson of the National Statistics Institute (INE), Rosario Fernandes, said that these figures, although only preliminary, provide a secure basis for designing public policies in the social and demographic fields. He guaranteed that the final results will be published in late June 2018.