- First population census in nearly two decades slated for 2026
The Ministry of Planning and Development and the Ethiopian Statistics Service are rolling out a multibillion birr census slated to cover agriculture, health, business, and population demographics.
Scheduled for rollout this year, the ‘Ethiopian Statistical Development Program’ (ESDP) is estimated to cost close to 35 billion birr (USD 622 million) and run through 2026. Officials at the Service want to conduct five survey projects, covering demographics and health, businesses, integrated households, and agriculture.
Four of the five surveys are to begin this year, while officials have put off the population and housing census until the third and final year of the project, pending the country’s political and social stability.
Beker Shale (PhD), director-general of the Service, observes cooperation from the public is key to conducting a successful population and housing survey.
“It depends on the psychology of the public and the general situation in the country,” he told The Reporter.
Nearly two decades have passed since the government last conducted a population census, among other kinds of surveys.
“We’ve been using scientific methods and making assumptions, especially for the population and housing census,” Beker said.
The ESDP will also include the preparation of legislation for the establishment of a statistical board, as well as initiatives to strengthen government finance and monetary statistics, improve data management systems, and expand technology infrastructure.
Besides conducting these surveys, the ESDP will have seven other strategic activities and key result areas, bringing the total main activities of the multi-billion project activities to eight.
The Planning Ministry and the Statistics Service, which reports to the Ministry, unveiled the program at the Skylight Hotel on February 1, 2024. Fitsum Assefa (PhD), minister of Planning and Development, disclosed implementation had already begun.
Fitsum hopes to see technology-assisted surveys collect credible information that can be used to recalculate the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). National surveys and censuses are typically conducted every five years, but it has been more than 16 years since Ethiopia last saw one.
The Minister claims the government is fully committed to the population and housing census. She disclosed plans for a census in 2019 were cut short by ethnic and political tensions.
“We postponed the census because security issues in some regions were unfavorable,” said Fitsum. “We’re now seeing situations where it could be possible to conduct the population census in the 2025/26 fiscal year. However, we have to study the situations again and consider the possibilities of using technology as well.”
The Minister foresees that financing the project could be troublesome. The government is expected to cover half of the project cost, while officials are banking on donors covering up to 40 percent of costs (13.9 billion birr) in the form of grants and loans. The remaining 10 percent is to be raised through “innovative financial sources.”
The constitution dictates a population and housing census be carried out every 10 years.