Population census and effective data storage are important for a country

Population census and effective data storage are important for a country

The National Bureau of Statistics commemorated African Statistics Day (ASD), where the body highlighted the importance of keeping data in both the government and private sectors.

During this event, the Deputy Chief of Social Statistics at the National Bureau of Statistics, Jackson Okello, emphasised that data needs to be updated and stored in a way that it can easily be accessed when need arises. Talking about data, it is common knowledge that South Sudan is struggling with data keeping—it is one of the weak links of many government agencies. For instance, a spot check on many government websites would reveal a huge information gap. Most of the websites are rarely updated. In this day and age, public institutions must invest in modern websites that provide all manner of information—detailed and superficial—to those who want it. They need to have their own archives to store data for easier consumption by the public.

Okello delved into the heated subject of population census, where he argued that information sources such as “the 2008 census, population projections from 2008 to 2040, and the Population Estimate Survey cannot be used for elections.

“Those sources have their defects; they have their weaknesses, so the election cannot be done using the three sources. The best way to go is to conduct a census,” Okello said.

His statement was spot on, given the nature of the exercise we are talking about. For the government to conduct a free, fair, and credible election, a population census is necessary. It is important to assess the population of the people of South Sudan and break it down by area. This will help in preventing disputes that could arise during the election. Without an updated population census, there is a risk of ending up with exaggerated voter registration. This is where anomalies may come in, where the total number of voters exceeds the number of registered voters or adults of voting age within a particular location.