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Nigeria has not conducted a population census since I was a teenager and that is telling! This year, however, the National Population Commission (NPC) has not only announced a date for the first census in 17 years, it has also detailed the role technology will play in the exercise. According to the commission, “the 2023 Census will be Nigeria’s first Digital Census.”
On the commission’s website, the scheduled date is March 29-April 2 2023 and there is a brilliant breakdown of how the census will be administered – though riddled with typos. Already, the NPC has done a demarcation of enumeration areas covering the entier (sic) territorial space of Nigeria using mobile handheld device and geograpic (sic) information systems (GIS) and satellite imageries to create the digital census maps. The digital frame produced is a major tool for the planning of human and material resources for the Census. This, the commission says, determines the enumerators’ assignment areas and forms a basis for distribution of materiats (sic) during the Census. We have studied the document so you don’t have to, so here are…
6 things you need to know about Nigeria’s digital population census:
- For starters, electronic forms hosted in Personal Digital Assistant devices will be used to capture information on all buildings, household and persons in the enumeration areas. Per a statement from the commission, the handlers of these devices have already started receiving training. The training is said to include self-learning study and online training with monitored simulated hands-on and in-person classroom and hands-on training. The workers are being trained on handling census forms, census applications, data capturing processes, interpersonal communication, and basic troubleshooting of Computer Assisted Personal Interviews.
- The census will also take houses into account per usual. I remember how they came numbering our house back in the day and pasted a sticker as well. This time however, digital maps will be used as against using paper maps like they did in the past. This is in line with the NPC’s resolve to make the process paperless.
- Timing. There is a lot of jargon with regards to timing for the census, but the gist is that the enumerator should get to your house no earlier than 12:01am on March 29th and no later than 11:59pm on April 2nd.
- Categorizing families/households/individuals. So, the commission has stated categorically that a household has to be people who live and eat together as a family with a family head; in this case, mum, dad or most senior family member. Families will be further categorised into Regular Household, Institutional Household (Long or short stay; I reckon hospitals, correctional centres, schools etc), Floating or Transient (I’m thinking, for visiting family members and nomads, perhaps) and IDPs (I reckon, people who perhaps live under the bridge for instance).
- Data privacy. The commission has admitted that it owes a level of confidentiality to the general public and has promised to destroy names of individuals immediately after analyzing the results, adding that it will ensure no information will be released in a away that will enable users of census data to identify any individual or household.
- Nomenclatures. The commission has replaced “Persons living with disabilities” with “Persons living with difficulties in performing certain tasks.”
The NPC prides in going digital for this edition of the population census because of accuracy of data, which is largely true and about time. Also, seeing that respondents answers will be recorded on a mobile device, I am inclined to emphasize that this process will require some patience and honesty. I am excited at the prospects of a fully digital census and at the moment have no further questions for the NPC. Do you?