Kandifo Institute puts Ghana’s 2021 population census into perspective

Census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. Census is mostly used in connection with national population and housing censuses. The United Nation (UN) defines the essential features of population and housing censuses as individual enumeration, universality within a defined territory and recommends that population censuses be taken at least every ten years.

Censuses being expensive are only taken at infrequent intervals like in every 10 years in many countries, every five years or at irregular intervals in other countries. As part of a census count, most countries also include a census of housing. It is the process of collecting, compiling and publishing information on buildings, living quarters and building related facilities such as sewage systems, bathrooms, and electricity, just to mention but a few.

There are two types of censuses:
First is census of population where information is collected on basic population characteristics which includes sex, marital status, age, household size, household composition and family characteristics. Information is also collected on economic measures including labor force participation, occupation, place of work, employment- related industry and educational attributes. Migration and geographic information are also collected. Questions on place of birth, place of usual residence, duration of residence and prior place of residence allow planners to examine population movements.

Other countries also collect information on births and deaths, especially those that do not have a system that adequately registers these vital events.

The other type of census is the census of housing collects information on buildings, living quarters and related facilities. Information is collected on buildings which are used for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes which includes the type of structure, the construction materials used for the outer walls and the year of construction.

The European colonial powers conducted sporadic counts of colonists and even the total population in certain trading centers and colonies in Africa.

These enumerations are suggestive of a total population count but provided very little information on the composition or age structure of the population.

The modern census in Africa acquired prominence in the latter half of the twentieth century during the post-independence era. Most have conducted at least three censuses since independence.

By the mid-1970s almost every African nation had conducted a census enumeration. During this post-independence period over 200 census enumerations have occurred.

The first census of the population in Ghana was taken 1891 and further census were taken in the tenth year until the series was interrupted as a result of World War II but resumed in 1948.

The first census conducted in Ghana after independence was in 1960.
The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the 30-day to Ghana’s 2021 census and this will be the first fully digital one in the West African Country.

This, he says would be unique with the use of electronic tablets and the internet to capture and transfer data to guarantee the delivery of high- quality and faster results to support the decision-making process.

The Legal Authority for conducting this Population and Housing Census is the Statistical Service Act 2019 (Act1003). This law empowers the Government Statistician to conduct statistical surveys and any census in Ghana.

This census is going to provide important information to support evidence-based implementation of the national development agenda and also support the tracking of achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

Undertaking a population Census and a housing Census at the same time will help get information on the population and living quarters and they can readily be matched for processing and also make it possible for extensive analysis to be carried out.

This will make it possible to relate the housing census data to the information on demographic and economic characteristics of each household member that is routinely collected in a population census. Undertaking the population and Housing census will give us the total number of persons and housing types and their characteristics in every town or village.

It will also help Central and Local Governments to plan for various social services such as education, health, housing, sanitation and others. The information that will be derived from the population and housing census will help the private sector including businesses to plan their activities which will benefit the economic development of Ghana.

The data collected on socioeconomic and housing conditions will allow for the identification of vulnerable individuals, groups and households for targeted policy and program interventions
As part of legal requirement, it is required that we hold a population and housing census in Ghana every 10 years.

The last population and housing census conducted in Ghana was in 2010. This population and housing census was scheduled for 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The census officials are going to observe all the health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus during field data collection. The population and census will begin on the night of Sunday, June 27, 2021 and this will be the first fully digital census with the use of tablets for date capture instead of traditional paper questionnaires.

By Sharon Brown-Acquah