President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that the next Population and Housing Census (PHC) has been scheduled between April and May 2021.
He said funding had been secured for the census, and that the government was committed to conducting the exercise, in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Akufo-Addo said this when he launched the 2017/2018 Agriculture Census National Report at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday.
Although the agriculture census is supposed to be done every 10 years, the current one — conducted in 2017/2018 — comes 33 years after the last one.
The first was in 1963, the second in 1975 and the third in 1985.
President Akufo-Addo described as shameful the fact that for over three decades the agriculture census had not taken place.
As a result, he said, policy — prior to his assumption of office — had been based largely on guesswork, and that it was no wonder that that period witnessed systematic decline in agriculture.
The President said the conduct of the census must become a regular feature of national life.
He said it was to realise that goal that he assented to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) Act 1003 (2019) on September 24, 2019.
He said Section 35 of the act urged the GSS to collaborate with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to conduct an agriculture census within three years after the holding of the population census.
Recently, the GSS announced that the 2020 PHC would take place in 2021, with the explanation that the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the “destabilisation of the population” by the political peak season, had necessitated the postponement of the census to next year.
The GSS had originally fixed March 15, 2020 for the exercise, but it was rescheduled twice to May 15, 2020 and then June 28, 2020, with the explanation that the latter date was to allow for the service to conduct a mapping process and build quality data for the main exercise.
The Head of Publicity for the PHC, Mr Francis Nyarko Larbi, had earlier explained to the Daily Graphic that the target now was to conduct the census early next year.
While observing that the postponement of the exercise was unfortunate, Mr Larbi said it was nonetheless an opportunity to prepare adequately for it at the right time.
“This is not the time to relax and say that there is more time for us. The PHC is a big project and so we are still planning and working on other things,” he added.
He said the GSS had already trained officers at the national level through virtual training programmes and the initiative was being replicated at the district level.
This is not the first time the country has postponed a PHC.
A population census was first undertaken by the British colonial administration in the Gold Coast in 1891.
Since then, censuses have been conducted every decade, except in 1941 when the 1939-45 World War interrupted the series.
In post-independence Ghana, five population censuses have been conducted — 1960, 1970, 1984, 2000 and 2010.
Per the 10-year interval arrangement, the sixth post-independence census was to be conducted this year.