EDITORIAL: Get it right with census to harvest quality data the country needs

Friday August 19 2022
Rwanda census.

Rwanda's National Population and Housing Census is expected to kick off on August 16 and run until August 30, 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY


Rwanda is set to embark on a national population census, the fifth the country has done since 1979 as the government seeks fresh data to facilitate planning and distribution of resources in the country.

The National population and housing census is expected to kick off next week for 14 days beginning Tuesday August 16 and run up until August 30.

The most important aspect in any society is human capital. Census is important because this process helps compile a numerical profile of Rwanda. This in turn informs decision making at all levels both in government and the private sector.

A population census is a total count of the country’s population, where demographic, social and economic information, as well as information about the housing conditions of the people who live in Rwanda is gathered.

The government says it has invested more resources in the exercise to harvest high quality data. Over $30 million has been invested in the census, from around $16 million invested in the last census.

This significant expenditure by the government is justified. For one thing, reliable data is crucial to improve policies, to measure their impact and to make adjustments as needed.


The capacity to produce, analyze, and use high quality statistics, therefore, is critical to the entire results process.

In addition, if properly done, the census provides an integrated picture of society that facilitates evidence based planning. Moreover, the census provides a suitable database for comparisons and projections of demographic data as well as social and economic characteristics of society. It provides a database on which population projections and workforce projections.

But perhaps more important is that the count is the foundation of good governance as it serves as a basis for equitable representation and resource distribution. This is why it is important that everyone actively participates in the process and shares the required information.

The government policy that is evidence based depends upon accurate and complete information collected by the National Institute of Statistics. There is no doubt that the increased attention being given to statistics is part of the government’s quest for evidence based policy making.

However, it remains to be done and it is important to remember that availability of data does not necessarily mean that the information will be used. Much more effort is needed to integrate statistics into policy agendas and to assist users, and those designing policy to commission, access, analyze and use the information provided.

However, privacy of data provided must be guaranteed so that the citizens who provide private information is not exposed to third parties.