Census 2021 called off over lack of money

11 June 2021 | Local News

OGONE TLHAGE and JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Namibia will not be able to conduct the 2021 national census because it does not have the financial resources – about N$1 billion – needed to carry out the exercise, director general of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Obeth Kandjoze, said.

Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) statistician general and CEO Alex Shimuafeni confirmed this, saying: “Census 2021 has been cancelled and postponed to next year mainly due Covid-19 prioritisation”.

This will mark the first time Namibia is unable to conduct a census since independence in 1990. The NPC is entrusted to conduct a national census every 10 years, with the last having been conducted in 2011.

“We do not have the requisite resources available to finalise a survey with the price tag of N$1 billion,” Kandjoze said.

Despite the lack of funds, work will still continue to conduct a census of some sorts, he said.

“The major component of that survey has been retained except not dispatching that full amount, but work is continuing.”

Not to worry

Kandjoze was not worried that planning would be affected because the census was not being conducted, adding that the exercise would be conducted at a yet-to-be determined date in future.

“We have checked; we have verified globally we can shift it to a period when we are better resourced to finance it,” he said.

NSA was also finalising work related to the census, Kandjoze said.

“Much of the body of work of what otherwise would have been kept at bay is actually going on; much of what the NSA has been doing, part of that work is done,” he said.

“There is not much in the way of development that is going to affect the process on account of the process [census] being delayed,” he added.

Unacceptable

Meanwhile, Popular Democratic Movement parliamentarian Nico Smit blasted government for its decision not to conduct the census.

“It’s not acceptable that there is no census. Everything that government is doing is based on figures. You cannot plan properly, it’s really unacceptable. That’s why everything is in shambles; it is strange to me,” Smit said.

Economist Mally Likukela said development planning would be affected by the lack of a census.

“The scope from which to base informed planning processes will be very limited. Census reports being crucial planning tools, not having them in our planning toolkit is a recipe for disastrous planning outcomes,” Likukela said.

Meanwhile, University of Namibia academic Omu Kakujaha-Matundu said if development was conducted with information received from the census, Namibia would have seen better outcomes.

The NSA, for its part, said the census was cancelled because of Covid-19.