Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Uganda blackouts 'fuel baby boom'

Baby, Uganda
Uganda's annual population growth rate is among the highest in the world

Uganda's population explosion is being fuelled by electricity shortages which lead couples to go to bed early and have sex, a minister has said.

"While the rest of the world is working in shifts, we in Uganda are going to bed early," said Planning Minister Ephraim Kamuntu.

"Then we complain that the population is growing. Why not?"

More than 90% of Ugandans are without reliable access to electricity, according to Mr Kamuntu.

Night fever

Without light or TV for entertainment, couples are forced to retire early, spending up to 12 hours a day in darkness.

While the rest of the world is working in shifts, we in Uganda are going to bed early
Ephraim Kamuntu,

Uganda Planning Minister

Uganda's annual population growth rate is one of the highest in the world - 3.4% - according to statistics from the country's Population Secretariat.

Mr Kamuntu said this was a major reason why Ugandan living standards remained low.

Speaking in Mukono, at a workshop on the upcoming National Development Plan, he said that improved electricity infrastructure is needed to keep lovers out of bed.

Widening access to power would also help increase the efficiency in the country's agricultural sector, he added.

However, ordinary Ugandans were not convinced that the turning off of the lights is what is turning on the nation's couples.

"I don't think that a lack of electricity is the cause of overpopulation. It's because of poverty," said one.

"They are bored, they've got nothing to do".

"Personally I think it's all about birth control," said another. "People don't use contraceptives.

"I think that has nothing to do with people spending a lot of time in bed."

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