Karachi population to increase by 50% in 15 years

Published: October 21, 2015
Karachi’s population will increase by 50% in the next 15 years to 24.84 million. PHOTO: ONLINE

Karachi’s population will increase by 50% in the next 15 years to 24.84 million. PHOTO: ONLINE


In the next 15 years, Karachi will be the seventh most populous city of the world, forecasts a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, highlighting the urgency for making strategies to manage resources and build infrastructure for transforming the country’s commercial hub into an engine of growth.

Karachi’s population will increase by 50% in the next 15 years to 24.84 million, according to “Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2015” report of the ADB. The statistics put the current total population of the country’s largest metropolitan city at 16.62 million, making it the 12th most populous city.

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Tokyo, New Delhi, Shanghai will be the top three cities of the world in terms of housing maximum number of people by 2030.

Lahore, which is currently not included in the list of 30 most populous cities, is projected to have a population of 13.03 million, making it the 27th most populous city by 2030, according to the report.

The ADB population growth forecasts are slightly lower than those projected by the previous Pakistan Peoples Party government in its Framework for Economic Growth (FEG). Prepared by the Planning Commission, the FEG placed the urban development at the centre of economic growth, arguing that the cities can become engine of growth, provided there is better planning and utilisation of resources.

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The FEG showed Karachi population at 27.9 million by 2030 and that of Lahore at 14.6 million.

Currently, the city planners have failed to cope with the growing needs of the population, resulting in unplanned development in the city, which is not catering to the needs of the people.

The ADB report says that the urban population is rapidly growing. As against 34% urban population in 2005, the number has grown to 38.6% till last year. The Framework for Economic Growth has projected that by 2030 half of the country’s population will be residing in cities.

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Benefits of cities

According to the FEG, proximity and density create large markets for goods and services. In turn, large markets build social capital, allow interactivity, nurture innovation and entrepreneurship. Large-scale production and diverse services demand efficiencies and specialisation. Innovation occurs in dense clusters, where there is intense competition.

Secondly, the FEG argues that cities are poor-friendly. They are open to people with different backgrounds, affiliations, offer jobs and self-employment. Social mobility, from rags to riches, happens in cities. However, this cannot be achieved without proper planning of resources and building infrastructure. Karachi faces challenges like commercialisation of residential properties due to complex building regulations, controlled by half a dozen departments.

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Growing population, the ADB report highlights, is creating problems for people, adding that Pakistan is placed among top 11 economies of Asia and Pacific Region that are facing challenge of malnutrition. About 32% of the total population is starving, second only to Bangladesh where 32.6% population is facing problem of malnutrition, according to the findings. Similarly, 22% of Pakistan’s population remains below minimum level of dietary and energy consumption.

The education indicators are also not as good as of the other countries. In Pakistan, at least one in five children of primary school age is out of school, according to the ADB.

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Skill shortage and skill mismatch, the report states, are also serious problems in many developing countries, including those in Asia. Per capita income in a typical developing Asian economy can more than double in a 20-year period if cognitive skills can progressively reach levels seen in more advanced economies, it suggests.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported that Karachi’s population would double in 15 years. The error is regretted. Editor 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2015.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Oct 21, 2015 - 10:25AM

    Disaster! Disaster! Disaster! With our existing laws, and even if they are changed with competent persons managing affairs, the city MAY show a marginal improvement if we start immediately after the Local Bodies Polls. If they are held??? Salamis Recommend

  • TribuneReader
    Oct 21, 2015 - 12:20PM

    50% growth is NOT doubling. That is 200% growth, big difference.Recommend

    Oct 21, 2015 - 12:29PM

    Rangers can fix Karachi in no time………….All problems can be solved via boots bayonets and bullets……..May Allah guide us all…..Recommend

  • BBC
    Oct 21, 2015 - 1:03PM

    This is a global problem.. Muslims overbreed wherever they go which leads to poverty and then blame others for their misery.Recommend

  • Munir
    Oct 21, 2015 - 2:04PM

    God, this city is already suffocating at 20 million souls. Please do not blame illiteracy for this. All my educated and well-to-do colleagues have 3 or 4 children. Recommend

  • Indus
    Oct 21, 2015 - 4:30PM

    @Munir I agree this is a concerning phenomenon. Even in US many have many friends from Pakistan and invariably all of them have 3 or 4 children. Each one of them are highly educated. While India is equally populous based on density and they are all having 1 or 2 children.Recommend

  • Saad Ullah
    Oct 21, 2015 - 4:34PM

    How is 50% increase equal to doubling?
    ET needs to work on its mathematical skillsRecommend

  • Ali S
    Oct 21, 2015 - 4:36PM

    I find it hard to believe that Karach’s current population is 16.6 million, most estimates put it at 18-20 million. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. When will a local body govt come to make this city at least functional?Recommend

  • Farooq
    Oct 21, 2015 - 5:06PM

    When I here stories of Karachi from the older generation I feel a deep pang of nostalgia. I think the time is coming that we should learn from China. Migration to Karachi should be strictly controlled and family size should be also controlled. Recommend

  • Karachiite.
    Oct 21, 2015 - 5:11PM


    Doubling isnt 200% growth, it’s 100% growth actually.. Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Oct 21, 2015 - 5:24PM

    These statistics are a joke. Karachi is already first or second most populous city of the world. Official figure of 16.62 million is absolutely wrong. Karachi is full of no go areas where police and other law enforcement agencies have no access. How many people live there is a mystery. Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed Khan
    Oct 21, 2015 - 5:28PM

    What can you expect from a country that hasnt done census since very long! Karachi and Lahore are heading towards mega disasters, its not only the population growth but internal migration towards these mega cities. No one planning to educate, house people.

    Focus of development only is towards bigger cities instead of developing smaller cities so people dont have to migrate for better opportunities and facilities.
    Develop population intensive industries as manufacturing units, in smaller cities to cancel the effect of migration.

    Plan for education and health facilities for this huge population to actually be productive citizens. Recommend

  • Xyz
    Oct 21, 2015 - 5:36PM

    Actually 100% growth is doubling @TribuneReader: Recommend

  • Daniyal S. M
    Oct 21, 2015 - 6:19PM

    Haha you are wrong too. A doubling would mean a 100% increase.Recommend

  • TribuneReader
    Oct 21, 2015 - 11:57PM

    My bad. Should have checked my semantics. Doubling is 200% of the initial value but a 100% increase. That said my original comment stans. The press should really stop with the fear mongoring. Recommend

  • Jalbani Baloch
    Oct 22, 2015 - 9:57AM

    Increase in population of Karachi shows the incompetence and ill-planning on the part of the Government of Sindh to control the every increasing population, which is due to the population growth arising from fertility, but it is due to the influx of people from all over the country and beyond including Afghanistan, India, Burma, Bengalis, Iranis and etc. The Government should check this artificial growth in the population of Karachi and stop influx of people from other provinces including Punjab, KPK and beyond. Recommend

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