South Africa’s population is expected to exceed 50-million in the 2011 census, which will take place in October, said Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) head Pali Lehohla on Tuesday.
According to the mid-2010 estimates, South Africa has a population of 49.9-million and with an average yearly population growth of less than 1%, the population would exceed the 50-million mark this year.
There have been two official census counts since South Africa's first democratic election in 1994, the first in 1996 and the second in 2001, with the third now scheduled for 2011.
Lehohla said at a Mail & Guardian business breakfast that the biggest challenge Stats SA faced with the census was the significant undercount experienced to date. In the 2001 census, the undercount stood at about 22%. “This means that we missed one in every five people and that is just a waste of resources and money.
“Disturbingly, the pilot that was done last year indicated that the undercount was most likely to increase with this year’s census, as access to people has become even more difficult.”
Lehohla urged people to cooperate and open their doors, in order for Stats SA to gather the necessary information that would be used to provide government, policy-makers, business and international agencies with data on which to base social and economic development plans and programmes.
At the start of October, StatsSA would be putting up posters of the counters that would be responsible for gathering information in each area, in an attempt to gain easier access to homes.
The data collected from each household includes items such as education, demographics, income and employment.
The definition used to establish whether people are employed or not is based on international benchmarks used in census in other countries. “A person that is employed has performed an activity for gain in the last seven days, if a person is unemployed he or she have looked for a job opportunity in the last seven days,” said Lehohla.
The census would employ 156 000 people to finish the task of counting and gathering information in 21 days.
Stats SA would intensify its education and marketing campaign in the last 100 days before counting started on October 10.
Lehohla said that Stats SA started its campaign about a year ago, but was interrupted by political campaigning for the local government elections in May.
South Africa has a diverse population with Africans being the majority at almost 80%, followed by white people, the coloured population and the Indian/Asian population.