Everything you should know about Nigeria’s 2023 digital census

Ganiu Oloruntade

The National Population Commission (NPC) will embark on a digital population and housing census from March 29 to April 2, 2023. Described as Nigeria’s first “fully digital census”, the exercise will see the use of mobile handheld devices known as Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), geographic information systems (GIS), and satellite imageries.

“The main technological component of the census is the deployment of the Personal Digital Assistant devices. This is the tool that will be used for the collation of data instead of the paper that we used,” Isiaka Yahaya, an NPC spokesperson, told Punch newspapers in an interview.

According to Nasir Isa Kwarra, the NPC Chairman, the PDAs house the census questionnaire and the maps that would direct the enumerators to the areas where they would conduct the census. He stated this when the NPC received 100,000 units of PDAs it procured from Zinox Technologies, a West African equipment manufacturer, for the 2023 national census, which happens to be the country’s first since 2006.

digital census
Image Source: NPC|Twitter.

“The geospatial resources that NPC has acquired will be deployed on the devices. This will ensure that all Nigerians are counted where they are and live. We will also be able to collect statistics on housing type and characteristics for better physical and social planning by government for the nation,” he was quoted to have said.

How will the 2023 census work?

For starters, it is important to note that the 2023 census, thanks to the infusion of technology, is touted to change how censuses are conducted in Nigeria. Interestingly, the census comes at a time when the credibility of the 2023 presidential election is being questioned, despite the technological components deployed by the electoral umpire.

In a statement on its website, the NPC said the field operations for the digital census would begin with the building and household listing as usual. However, digital maps will be fetched online as against carrying paper maps. The output of the exercise will undergo validation.

“All those residing in Nigeria are expected to be counted and only once during the Census. Please no one should travel for the purpose of the Census as all are expected to be captured in their present places of abode. Even those not attached to particular buildings will also be enumerated during the exercise,” the agency said in a video shared on Twitter by President Muhammadu Buhari’s special assistant on digital & new media, Tolu Ogunlesi.

Read also: The Missed Opportunities of the Nigerian Election 2023: A Metaphorical Analysis by Austin Okere.

What time does the digital census start?

According to the NPC, the census adopts the UN standards and has set census right as the zero hour (midnight) of the first census date.

The reference period for each household is the time between the first Census day’s zero hour and the time an enumerator visits a household. Hence, an enumerator’s visitation must occur between the zero hour on the first census day and midnight on the last day designated for census enumeration.

What type of methodology will be used?

Per the NPC, the method of census taking this time around will leverage a full digital methodology with the use of mobile app devices. And as such, there will be a change in how data on Population and Housing Information will be captured.

The methodology for the 2023 Population and Housing Census (PHC) includes the following: assignment of enumeration areas by EA ID to enumerators, identification areas of enumeration areas, house numbering and household listing exercise, building and household listing data validation, census night, enumeration, data processing, data analysis, post-enumeration survey, and dissemination.

What questionnaire questions to expect

Just as the conduct of the census has transformed, the questionnaire questions to be administered have been equally modified from the ones from the 2006 census, according to the NPC. Let’s take a look at them below:

Under the population classification, the items include household, institution (long stay), institution (short stay), floating/transient population, and diplomatic corps. In the residence section, the NPC identified different types of residence to fit into the varying population classification,

Image Source: Dataphyte.

For questions on the relationship to the head of household, there are 20 listed in the questionnaire. Finally, there are two items regarding migration: interstate migration and intrastate migration. The latter is further broken down into Inner LGA Migration and Intra-LGA Locality Migration (within the current LGA of residence) for rural and urban migration.

Other modifications to the questionnaire are questions on birth registration, dual nationality, replacement of ‘Persons living with disability’ with ‘Persons with difficulties in performing certain tasks’ in line with the Washington D.C recommendations, and introduction of an ICT section, among others. You can read up on others here.

A run-through of the digital census

As listed by the NPC, the census will follow ten steps. See them below:

  1. Create a database of enumerators and distribute by EA ID from the approved list of functionaries.
  2. Enumerators use EA IDS to fetch EA maps and locate enumeration areas in the actual location.
  3. Use the geocodes in the maps to identify and list buildings and households therein.
  4. The data validation officers use determined parameters to check the coverage and content of the data from house numbering and household listing to pass it for enumeration.
  5. Observe the census night for its unique purpose of identifying the special population like homeless households and persons;
  6. Complete questionnaires administration will be carried out on the main questionnaire for individual persons and households, while alternative enumeration methods may be used to obtain responses from hard-to-count areas of the country;
  7. The retrieval of data from the servers and preparing data for analysis;
  8. Analysis and dissemination of data to inform users collected in phases of the data;
  9. Post Enumeration Survey will be carried out to assess the content and coverage errors in the census process;
  10. Dissemination and further analysis of data.

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!

Register for Technext Coinference 2023, the Largest blockchain and DeFi Gathering in Africa.

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!