Addis Ababa — The vast majority of African countries are preparing for or carrying out their national censuses as part of the 2020 round of census, raising the need for the continent to quickly address major challenges that can hinder delivery of results in an efficient and effective way, says Economic Commission for Africa's (ECA) William Muhwava.
Some of these challenges include mobilizing resources for census-taking activities, technology use, training and device availability, among others.
Mr. Muhwava, Chief of the Demographic and Social Statistics Section at the ECA, said results of the 2020 round are crucial as they would help nations and the continent at large to plan for the rapid growth Africa continues to experience; project future trends and work on improving people's living conditions, among other plans.
He was speaking during the on-going five day experts group meeting on supporting electronic data collection and dissemination in censuses-making on the continent. The meeting was organized by the ECA in partnership with the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics.
The meeting seeks to enhance participant's understanding of using new technologies to improve census data collection and dissemination.
"To ensure the round's success, it is vital that all key stakeholders remain committed to the process until its completion, particularly as the round is characterized by a number of emerging challenges, including those relating to the use of innovative technologies," said Mr. Muhwava.
"That must be addressed as part of an inclusive, consultative and coordinated process involving all relevant actors. Our role as experts is to deliver credible censuses in an efficient and effective way by harnessing the innovative approaches that come our way."
Mr. Muhwava's presentation gave an overview of the 2020 Round of Population and Housing Census in Africa and the ECA's role.
The ECA will provide direct technical support necessary for census planning, management, data collection, processing, analysis and dissemination; help build technical capacity on the different phases of a census operation; and support countries in difficult circumstances to prepare to conduct population and housing censuses, he said.
Mr. Muhwava added that in line with UN principles of universality, regularity, simultaneity and defined periodicity, ECA aims to increase census coverage on the continent - almost 51 out of 54 countries in Africa will undertake censuses during the 2020 Round which spans from 2015-2024.
Working with member States, the ECA also hopes to increase the number of countries that adhere to the internationally recommended periodicity of 10 years in between successive national censuses; increase capacity at national level to plan, collect, analyze and disseminate census results; and expand availability of census results in the shortest possible time at all administrative levels in member countries and in formats suitable to users.
The Economic and Social Council's resolution on the 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme urges member States to conduct at least one census during the round, taking into account international and regional recommendations.
It underscores the need to set quality standards to ensure reliable and accurate results and emphasizes the importance of the program to the Sustainable Development Goals.