Census data

Fred Wesley | Thursday, January 11, 2018
Whatever your take is on the national census, it has to be understood that data is important for decisions at many levels including the State.

There is funding to be considered, policy development and planning at various levels of society.

You would be looking at fields such as education, housing, transportation, and health for instance.

Understandably an important responsibility of governments, aside from maintaining law and order and nurturing economic growth, is to lay the foundation for citizens to have access to a good water supply and sanitation among other things. You would also factor in hospitals, proper roads and schools.

Then there would be the issue of employment opportunities.

For such important factors to be planned for, we should know what we are dealing with in terms of numbers. We are talking about population numbers and expectations in the future.

Then there is the issue of proper distribution of resources by the State, taking into account population figures across the country.

A census reflects the reality on the ground, and offers various stakeholders an opportunity to plan for eventualities.

We would then be looking at such issues as population density, demographics, planning for employment, State revenue, and developments in education, health services, housing and transportation to name a few.

For starters, we now know we have a population of 884,887 living in 191,910 private households for instance, and in 1224 institutions on census night on September 17 last year.

We know the average annual rate of population growth over the decade up to census night was 0.6 per cent. We know the annual rate of population growth has been decreasing, from two per cent in 1986, 0.8 per cent in 1996 and 0.6 per cent in 2017.

We know the decline is mainly due to lower birth rates and migration.

We know the median age of the population is 27.5 years, which means half of our population is below that age.

We know the proportion of our population living in urban areas is 55.9 per cent compared with 50.7 per cent in 2007 and 37.2 per cent in 1976.

We know the urban population has increased by 69,406 when compared with that of 2007 and the rural population has decreased by 21,790.

We know that Ba was the most populous province for instance, with its 247,708 residents accounting for 28.0 per cent of our total population.

The release of census data yesterday will no doubt be met with great interest. They are important for us to plan for our future.

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