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Census 2011 - planning for a better future

Written by Mbulelo Baloyi
As part of government’s long-term planning for future projects, South Africa’s next census will take place in October 2011. A census is a survey that counts all the members of a population and gets information about them. In South Africa, a census is taken every 10 years.

The awareness campaign for Census 2011 was launched in October this year to start preparing people for National Census Day on 10 October 2011.

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), in collaboration with other government departments, will use the opportunity to inform and educate people throughout the country on the meaning and importance of a census. 

The campaign will be directed at different sectors of the population. These include learners at schools, students at institutions of higher learning, workers in factories, office workers, and farm workers.


The first census after the April 1994 democratic elections took place in 1996. The last census took place in October 2001 when South Africans were counted for the second time as citizens of the new democracy.

During the 2001 census, Stats SA used over 83 000 enumerators (people who do the actual counting on the ground by visiting homes) and over 17 000 supervisors and fieldwork co-ordinators.

Information will be collected on people and households throughout the country even in the deepest rural areas. Questions asked will include things like age, gender, income, language, education level, religion and culture.

Ten years

In the past, government conducted a census every five years, but since 2001, it takes place every 10th year.

Government uses the information from the census to help plan for future projects. These include the building of schools, hospitals, roads and other public infrastructure. Many government departments and municipalities also use information from the census.

Voters’ roll

In addition to government and municipalities, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) also uses census information when compiling a common voters’ roll. This is used during elections.

Census 2011 will also show what progress had been made in the economic and social development of the country.
All people, including foreign nationals inside the country for work and study purposes, as well as visiting on the night of the census, are urged to co-operate with the enumerators.