Relentless Math & It’s Implications For All of Us

I want to continue my discussion on failed states, Egypt, Kenya and what it’ll mean for  many of us and our futures.  In this regard, I found another very interesting post from a blog  that I regularly read called Zerohedge.com.  The post was on Egypt, but it wasn’t confined to  Egypt.  It really was a post about economics and the mathematical facts, which now exist in  many countries and which are going to lead to future problems.

Let us begin with some facts on Egypt and why (if Mubarak had been paying attention to  them, he would have seen this uprising coming)

The relentless math:
Population 1960: 27.8 million
Population 2008: 81.7 million
Current population growth rate: 2% per annum (a 35-year doubling rate)
Population in 2046 after another doubling: 164 million
Rainfall average over whole country: ~ 2 inches per year
Highest rainfall region: Alexandria, 7.9 inches per year
Arable land (almost entirely in the Nile Valley): 3%
Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (400 m2)
Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha
Food imports: 40% of requirements
Grain imports: 60% of requirements
Net oil exports: Began falling in 1997, went negative in 2007

Now, substitute any of the above numbers for a country near you and you’ll be able to honestly see what is eventually going to happen.  According to the blog post above, …Any country that has to import both oil and food is living on borrowed time.”  They also added water to that list.  If a country finds itself experiencing consistent water shortages, it’s got a problem.

I’ve been following a lot of Kenyan politicians on Twitter and I’m always amused when their followers fall for the rubbish they spew.  I’m going to pick on Martha Karua because I think that out of all of the politicians, she is the most honest and I do believe that she genuinely wants change, but based on her tweets, I can tell that she has yet to acknowledge this issue of the relentless math.  It’s all about democracy and constitutional law and promulgation and all that nonsense, but even if you have all those things, if the math doesn’t add up in terms of resources and population, trouble will eventually hit your shores.

The blog post ends with this warning:

The future of Egypt will be shaped by these few biophysical facts — a relentless form of math that is hardly unique to Egypt, by the way — and it matters very little who is in power. Given the choice, I would not want to live there, nor in any other country that has fostered or permitted such reckless population growth beyond what the country itself can sustain.”

So, how are you going to protect your business or financial future against this relentless math?

10 comments for “Relentless Math & It’s Implications For All of Us

  1. kevin ogoro
    April 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

    the issue of arable land and water resources vis a vie energy cannot be looked at so simply. dubai for instance imports most if not all of its food and gets its water from desalination of sea water.
    hong kong (though not a country) singapore and japan barely have any land mass to speak of.
    am not trying to discredit the argument but its not exactly air tight. ict is important because other than the backbone and workforce it creates a global level playing field as opposed to agriculture, manufacturing and financials where developed countries have a head start.
    then there is the question of efficiency. why would you produce your own products when it is cheaper to import? this brings up the question of sovereignity and the real reason behind the argument. we just want to be able to do it. period

  2. Julius
    March 2, 2011 at 9:24 am


    You are right on this. As I have always insisted on my other posts, a country that cannot feed her people is a time bomb. How can you import both food and the fuel to cook it? Then what do you actually produce? Our Kenya is heading in the wrong direction. I always laugh when I hear loud mouthed senior goverment officers saying that ICT will be the key driver for the economy yet there is no food to feed the workers. We should focus on agriculture if we are to change our fortunes.

  3. kenyanentrepreneur
    February 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Kenyan dude:

    Thanks for that breakdown.

  4. Kenyan dude
    February 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Kenya has an area of 580,367 sq km. That’s 143,411,809 acres.

    There are 15 million adults. That’s 9.56 acres per adult.

    8% of the land is arable so there’s 3/4 acre of arable land per adult.

    Some of this 3/4 acre needs to be used for housing, hospitals, schools, roads, shops, offices, factories, etc.

    So, how much arable land per person is left for farming? Then the population will be 3.77 times what it is now in 50 years so we need to divide the 3/4 acre by 3.77.

  5. kenyanentrepreneur
    February 19, 2011 at 9:23 am


    Do you mind sharing those facts? I don’t have them tabulated.

    Should you flee? No. That’s not what the article link I pasted said. It just said that you should be aware of the math and prepare your financial life and/or business life accordingly.

    Don’t ignore the math and cling onto hope.

  6. kip
    February 18, 2011 at 6:51 am

    You do write tons of sense when the subject is NOT my community.

    Thanks for this insights anyway.I got facts on Kenya tabulated as above,and believe me Egypt is better…So should i FLEE?

  7. kenyanentrepreneur
    February 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm


    I’m not quite sure what you mean when you say that the institutionalist types are moving us a little ahead of the …etc, etc…

  8. Anonymous
    February 17, 2011 at 7:03 am

    the population vs resources debate has been with us for a long time. and there is no consensus. yet. fortunately, the institutionalist types are moving us a little ahead of the deterministic and (somewhat vulgar) mathematics.

  9. kenyanentrepreneur
    February 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm


    Different people have different definitions of what a “failed” state is. For middle-class Kenyans maybe a failed state would have to be as bad a place as Somalia.

    For someone living in Kibera or Mathare, maybe Kenya would be a failed state because the system hasn’t worked for them.

    However, my point with this post is that you have to prepare yourself for what is coming based on the mathematical facts.

    So, whether I call it a failed state or whether you call it a functioning state, is almost not relevant in light of the mathematical facts that are present in terms of population growth, arable land, water resources, etc., etc.

    The point here (in reference to the post on Egypt) is that people should look at the math and that will tell them what is coming because the mathematical facts (if left unaddressed) will not go away.

  10. Anonymous
    February 14, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Please stop calling Kenya are failed state. Those of us who live here are still alive, breathing and moving forward

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