Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has scored an impressive first, as for the first time, since coming into power almost 30 years ago, he has lent support to family planning efforts, as the country's rising population raises concerns.
Museveni, a fervent defender of high population as a key economic driver, attributing China's success to its human capital, conceded that massive numbers supported by poor quality education will not transform the economy.
I have realised that a poor quality population cannot transform the country
"Although I advocate for a big population, I have realised that a poor quality population cannot transform the country," he told delegates to the country's first ever national family planning conference on Monday.
Uganda's current growth rate is estimated at 3.1 per cent, against a 1.2 per cent world average, with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics saying unmet needs for family stands at 34 per cent.
"It is imperative that parents have children they can afford to look after, so that they don't grow like wild plants," Museveni said.
With the current family planning prevalence in Uganda at 26.7 per cent, Museveni argued that "with manageable families, even expenditures are affordable", admitting the economy would benefit from family planning.
"Family planning, if combined with economic growth and transformation, will improve the lives of women and children. It will also save families and country's expenditure on too many dependents."
The country's Minister for Primary Healthcare, Sarah Opendi said maternal deaths audits show most of such deaths occur among frequent child bearers and attributed the difficulty to low prevalence of family planning services.
The East African country's population has more than doubled since Museveni came to power, from around 15.2 million in 1986 to an estimated 36.3 million in 2012.