African countries commit to conduct censuses within 2010 RPHC

Determined to make statistics central to development on the continent, all African countries apart from Somalia have committed to conduct censuses during the 2010 round of population and housing census (RPHC).

The countries that participated in the 7th Africa Symposium on Statistical Development  (ASSD) in Cape Town, South Africa from January 18 to 20, 2012 have so far made positive progress towards the 2010 RPHC, however, the challenges facing African countries in conflict were noted. These countries, the meeting indicated as a result of conflicts are also unable to disseminate statistics related information.

In a resolution which was amended and passed, the meeting acknowledging the contributions of young statisticians on the continent among others, also accepted that civil registeration services are fundamental to good governance and basic service delivery.

In an exclusive interview with, Mr. Dimitri Sanga, Director of the Africa Centre for Statistics (ACS) expressed optimism that when African Ministers in charge of civil registeration meet in Cape Town in September 2012, they will endorse the resolutions passed by the continent’s statisticians.

” The resolution gave the needed institutional framework and technical work that has to be done. So that if they take the right decisions based on the resolution that was passed, we think that this will move the agenda forward,” he said.

The delegates also called upon African Ministers responsible for Civil Registeration to give priority to mobilising Africa to improve Civil Registeration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems.

“As opposed to any other statistics activities, civil registeration is about every citizen of every country. It’s about human rights, it’s about women’s rights, it’s about ensuring that armed groups don’t enrol young children, it’s about ensuring that young ladies don’t get into early marriages. It’s about basic human rights,”  he added.

He urged commitment, indicating that the countries are the ultimate beneficiaries of the system.
“Whatever we do, will need that political back-up to succeed. That’s what will bring the needed resources to setup this system s so that people will benefit from this system,” Mr. Sanga reiterated.

The meeting in resolving to improve on statistics also took note of the challenges facing National Statistics Offices in providing reliable, timely and continuous data on demographic and health variables and in preparation of population estimates and projections that can be used with full confidence in monitoring national development efforts, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In its recommendations, the meeting urged governments to improve the availability and accessibility of civil registeration services by devolving civil registeration structures and service points down to the lowest administrative unit and as far as possible to all families and communities.

The meeting also asked African governments to integrate civil registeration services into the public services, urging the countries to review their laws relating to civil registeration and vital statistics to align them to the principles of and recommendations of of the United Nations in accordance with the declaration of the first ministerial conference in 2010.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Cape Town, South Africa

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