Govt begins preps for 2020 census

NATIONAL development planning minister Alexander Chiteme says preparations for the 2020 census of population and housing have started.

And Central Statistical Office acting director Goodson Sinyenga says the office is confronted with the challenges of a rapidly changing world. During celebrations to mark the African Statistics day for 2018 held under the theme High quality official statistics to ensure transparency, good governance and inclusive development, Chiteme said both internal and external consultations have been held to allow stakeholder input towards having a successful census in August 2020.

Chiteme said the theme was in line with the African Union summit theme: Winning the fight against corruption: a sustainable path for Africas transformation.

Chiteme said corruption was associated with lack of transparency, weak governance and non-inclusive development and had a negative effect on national development as it jeaopardises inclusive social, environmental and economic development and growth. He, however, said good governance was one of the necessary pre-conditions for a prosperous and peaceful Africa and is at the heart of Agenda 2063 of the Africa Union that aspires for ‘An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.

Chiteme said high quality official statistics and particularly those that focus on governance, peace and security were important in ensuring transparency, good governance and inclusive development in Africa. He urged the CSO as a coordinating institution of the national statistical system to ensure that all sectors producing statistics adhere to the United Nations fundamental principles of official statistics. Chiteme said the CSO alone could not produce all the statistics needed for evidence based planning and to monitor global and national development goals.

He said it was important that production of official statistics was well coordinated by the CSO and that sectors continue to set standards, including adherence to principles and guidelines of official production of statistics. Chiteme said a month ago, Cabinet approved the statistics bill of 2018, allowing for its introduction in the current sitting of Parliament. He said the government was confident and highly expectant of the enactment of the bill, whose objects would lead to the enhanced role of the CSO and strengthen the coordination of the production and dissemination of official statistics in the country.

Additionally, you will recall that the CSO launched the preparatory process of the 2nd generation national strategy for the development of statistics for the period 2019-2023; which is more focused on sector inclusiveness. My ministry through the CSO has also taken lead in the development of the SDG indicator framework for Zambia, a process that will lead to the publication of the SDGs baseline report for our country. This report will be very useful in anchoring our current and future reporting on SDGs, he said.

And Sinyenga said the theme was timely as the CSO was mandated not only to produce official and high quality statistics. He said high quality statistics were expected when their production was done with strict adherence to internationally accepted standards and guidelines such as the United Nations fundamental principles of official statistics. He said due to the increase in the demand for high quality statistics, the CSO has evolved with time and has seen remarkable advancements since its establishment in the 1960s.

We are confronted with the challenges of a rapidly changing world. We statisticians need to be ready to flexibly adapt to new situations and explore all the possibilities to quickly adjust the statistical production to support the emerging needs of policymaking in implementing transparency, good governance and inclusive development in the country, he said. High quality official statistics are a guarantee of reliability. However, there are also other statistical sources in these times of big data. Cooperation between statisticians, the academic world and the producers of ‘unofficial statistics is crucial to meet an increasing and diversified demand for statistical information, he said.

A real dialogue between the different communities should be established. In order to fulfil this, the CSO launched the second generation of the national strategy for the development of statistics (NSDS2), which will be sector inclusive. The NSDS2 preparation process has a one-year roadmap, which includes extensive user engagements, particularly as the sectors develop and implement their sector strategic plans. These sector plans will be the building blocks for the NSDS2.

Sinyenga said to ensure consistencies and harmonised data collection, production and use, the CSO and stakeholders had for the first time produced a unifying statistical manual, namely compendium of statistical concepts and definitions for the national statistical system.

He said this coordination instrument was a milestone for the country as its appropriate application and use will lead to the production of more and also high quality statistics. Sinyenga said statistical information was key for inclusive development. it is a central element for accountability.

He said greater dissemination and wider use of high quality official statistics promises greater access to information for decision making.

Zambia is poised to conduct the sixth population and housing census in august 2020, with the previous censuses conducted in 1969, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. I must hasten to state that decennial (every ten 10 years) census of population and housing is a vast and complex undertaking. It is certainly the largest statistical exercise we can liken to a wartime, touching every corner, every individual and household in the land. I would like to take cognizance of the governments support of the Central Statistical Office to undertake this mammoth task that will produce statistics to better serve different policy needs, he said.

As you are aware, for the first time, the CSO is coordinating the undertaking of an electronic census, using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) techniques. This methodology has so far been used on a number of surveys conducted by CSO and has proved to improve the quality of data collected and reduced the time-lag between data collection and the dissemination of results.

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