“It is my sincere hope that all Kenyans will appreciate the key role that statistics play in our everyday life.” – Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary, The National Treasury and Planning
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) is preparing to conduct the country’s 8th population census in August 2019. A census, by definition, is the counting of every individual member of a population i.e. the inhabitants of a place. However, because people are always moving in and out of places, populations are fluid. As such, a census must also reference a specific point in time.
The upcoming national census aims to count all people present within the boundaries of Kenya on the night of 24th/25th August 2019 – including foreigners living in, visiting or transiting through the country. This does not mean that the entire exercise will be conducted on the 24th/25th of August. It simply means that all respondents will be counted with reference to where they were on the night of 24th/25th. In fact, the actual enumeration will run from 24th to 31st August.
Kenya has previously conducted censuses in 1948, 1962, 1969 and regularly every 10 years since. The national census is important because it provides the government, private sector and other interested parties with reliable and detailed data on the size, distribution and composition of the population of the country at a specified time.
Notably, the census does not just involve counting people. It also entails collecting basic information about them, such as their administrative location, living conditions and access to basic services. Analysis of this data informs planners on the social services that people require e.g. education, healthcare, housing and transport. It is also vital for monitoring internationally and locally agreed-upon agenda like Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Vision 2030 and the Big Four Agenda.
This year’s census is historic in that, for the first time ever, the data will be collected digitally. Instead of enumerators visiting households with pen and paper in hand, they shall carry tablets running specialized data collection software. There are many advantages to collecting data electronically, such as efficiency, timeliness and improved data quality.
An enumerator administering an electronic questionnaire using the Hoji mobile app.
At each household, field workers shall administer an electronic questionnaire designed to gather the information the government wants to collect. The questionnaire shall be responded to by the head of the household. In the absence of the head, any other responsible member of the household who can provide the required information about the people who spent the material night in the household shall be interviewed.
A census is among the most complex and massive peacetime exercises a nation undertakes. It also presents abnormally complex data management challenges. It will be interesting to see how Kenya’s boldness in deploying mobile data collection technology at this scale plays out.
As a leading provider of mobile data collection technology in the region, we are delighted to see this level of growth in the industry. We hope that it will yield more accurate data and that the final report will become available much faster as a result.
When the census officials knock at your door in August, be a good citizen and stand up to be counted!