Pretoria — The North West provincial government has welcomed the release of the Census 2011 results by Statistics South Africa as a helpful set of data that will assist in effectively planning for the needs of its people.
Census 2011 confirmed that the province is home to more than 3.5 million people, a figure that has grown from a total of two million in the Census 1996.
Unemployment reportedly dropped from 43.9 percent in 2001 to 32.6 percent in 2011.
The province has 6.8 percent of the country's population, less than that of Gauteng, which has the highest population in the country (23.7 percent).
Unlike most provinces, which lost a lot of people due to migration to Gauteng, the North West has been able to keep its population, mainly due to the mining and agricultural activities happening in the province.
The census showed that the number of households had grown from 81 633 in 1996 to one million in 2011 census.
Nationally, the number of households grew from 11.2 million in 2011, to just over 14.4 million in the previous year, a 29 percent increase.
In acknowledging the results after being handed officially to her by Statistician General Pali Lehohla at Mmabatho Convention Centre, North West Premier Thandi Modise said the results would play an important role in planning for development in the province.
"It is very important for us to read and understand the population of the province so that we spend wisely the money allocated to us by the national government.
"We really need to know thepeople that we are serving as government because the money given to us must be spent prudently," she said.
The premier emphasized that government must focus on spending more money on education in order to improve the quality of life of its citizens.
Lehohla echoed her sentiments, saying more effort should be put into providing education if government is serious about a better future of the country.
He raised a concern that few learners were taking mathematics and science, which was also shown on Census 2011 results.
"We need to encourage our children to take mathematics and science because failure to do so will results in our country not having skilled engineers," he said.