In just under a year’s time all people within the borders of South Africa will be counted on the night of the 9th and 10th October 2011 in the biggest census ever conducted in this country.
This census is set to provide the most comprehensive picture of the South African society and economy in the post-apartheid era, said Statistician-General Pali Lehohla as Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) launched the Census 2011 project in Sandton on 10 October 2010.
As part of the countdown launch the Statistician-General, Lehohla also unveiled the questionnaire for census 2011.
Lehohla said: “As South Africa prepares for its census in 2011, they will be part of a continent-wide movement as most African countries have also committed to participating in the 2010 Round of Population and Housing Censuses, which began in 2005 and ends in 2014.
“This is a far cry from any round of decennial censuses,” said Lehohla.
For years Africa has been lagging behind on matters statistics and now the importance of census-taking is permeating the African continent, and South Africa, through Statistics South Africa, has played an important role in mobilising Africa to conduct population counts.
Lehohla acknowledged the contribution of the current Minister in the Presidency: Planning, Trevor Manuel, who had consistently sought to bolster statistical development in Africa since 2006 when he was still Finance Minister.
Minister Manuel invited all heads of statistics offices on the continent and the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to Cape Town in January 2006.
“The meeting was called subsequent to my tabling a disturbing report from Yaoundé, Cameroon, where we as statisticians were considering a resolution that declared the Economic Commission for Africa ineffective on matters statistics,” said Lehohla.
The African Symposia for Statistical Development (ASSD) was born in Cape Town and Minister Manuel took the resolutions for strengthening statistics to the ECA ministers of economic planning and finance in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in May 2006.
Since then the agenda for statistics on the continent has grown from strength to strength and the sixth ASSD will be held in Egypt in November, and with it is a great track record of all African countries having committed to running a census in the 2010 Round of Censuses.
Stats SA used the opportunity of the countdown to also unveil the Census 2011 brand identity and Lehohla switched on the countdown clock to mark the 365 days before South Africa holds its third national count in the post-apartheid dispensation.
The government, policymakers and captains of industry use census information to plan for developmental projects.
The total cost of conducting Census 2011 is more than a billion rand.
Population and Social Statistics Deputy Director-General Kefiloe Masiteng said
R1.2 billion has been given to Stats SA to run the census, but the organisation is still negotiating with the National Treasury for an additional extra R700 million.
More than 120 000 fieldworkers will be employed to conduct the big count, which will cover more than 14 million households in the country.
On the state of readiness, Census 2011 Project Director Calvin Molongoana said he was confident that Statistics South Africa will have a successful count.
“We are doing all in our best to fine tune our preparations for the census. As we launch today, we are also starting our dress rehearsal for census. The final step is to ensure that society at large is ready and willing to be counted,” said Molongoana.
The final census results will be released in March 2013.