‘Endeavour to be counted’- Museveni urges Ugandans at launch of National Census 2024

Kampala, (UG): President Yoweri Museveni yesterday (Tuesday) launched the National Population and Housing Census (NPHC) 2024 and urged Ugandans to participate in the national exercise and get counted.

During the ceremony at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, H.E. Museveni thanked the management and staff of UBOS for the good work they have done in ensuring that census activities are always a success in Uganda.

The President also made it clear that the nationwide exercise will begin on the night of May 9, 2024, and the next day, May 10th, 2024, will be observed as a public holiday to enable a large number of Ugandans to be counted.

“The 10th day of May 2024 has been designated a public holiday. I therefore urge all Ugandans to actively participate in the census. By understanding the size, distribution, and characteristics of the population, the government will be better equipped to plan and provide equitable services for all Ugandans.” H.E Museveni stressed.

“The aim of the counting seems to be how many people? Where are they? How are they? What do they own? And where are the services? These are the questions which will be answered,” he added.

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President Museveni expounded that the census is crucial since it enables the government to plan better for its people.

“These questions are very crucial so that the government can plan for you better because you cannot plan properly for people you don’t know. Let us get the census so that it gives us the answers to all these questions, then we shall be able to know how to help them (Ugandans) better. The purpose of the counting is mainly planning,” he asserted.

The President was also happy to note that he was pleased with the growing population of Uganda and Africa as a whole.

“Africa used to be underpopulated. Remember that Africa is about 12 times the size of India; you can fit India in Africa 12 times. India is 1 million square miles while Africa is 12 million square miles. However, until recently, India had a bigger population than Africa but now Africa has taken over the population of India and by 2025, the population of Africa is estimated to be 2.5 billion, it will be the biggest in the world,” President Museveni revealed.

“This means that all this time, for 4 and a half million years, Africa has been underpopulated. Why? Because Africa is good for man and his enemies like mosquitoes, Tsetse flies, microbes, and Ebola, what a view! All of them are here. So, to see that the population is now growing is a mark of the success of the post-independence governments of Africa. Here in Uganda, it’s a dramatic example because the population was only 14 million in 1986 but it is now estimated to be 46 million; it has grown up to almost 4 times. Why? People are not dying as they used to die and the ones who live, live longer,” he added.

Uganda holds a national census every 10 years, with the last census held back in 2024, but current figures put the country’s population at 45.5 million, with a growth rate of 30.4 per cent.

The National census figures play a critical role in guiding planning, policy formulation, and programme implementation as well as monitoring development progress in line with the national goals and objectives.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), the 2024 national census exercise that will take place on the night of 9th May 2024, will use digital technology to collect, process and disseminate census results. The digital census will enable the country’s statistics body to produce accurate and timely demographic, social and economic statistics.

The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija expressed gratitude towards the development partners like the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the World Bank that have supported the government of Uganda in implementing the statistical activities and also involved in the 2024 census.

On the other hand, the Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development (Planning), Hon. Amos Lugoloobi explained that the census is a statistical operation in which all units of interest are enumerated by the UBOS Act 1998.

“It is only in the census that one can obtain a detailed understanding of the entire population and its characteristics at the same time. The census is the main source of demographic and socio-economic statistics in any country, it collects information and produces indicators such as household-based data on population, on housing, on agriculture, micro and small enterprises as well as community-based data,” he said.

Hon. Lugoloobi noted that census gives the government a complete picture of a nation at a given time such as the number of people living in a specific locality and the conditions under which they live.

“The Census 2024 will be the 6th such exercise to be conducted since Uganda got independence in 1962. In particular, it will be the 3rd to be conducted by UBOS which was established by an Act of Parliament in 1998 and it will be the first paperless census.”

On his part, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi thanked President Museveni for the support he has provided to enable the country to carry out the National Population and Housing Census 2024.

“Your Excellency, a census is a very important undertaking and it’s an age-old event. For Christians, if you read the Bible, there are many incidents which are quoted in the Bible where censuses were carried out including the time when Jesus was born. So, we want to assure Ugandans that there’s nothing bad about the census; If you are counted it means the government will know that you are there, it will plan for you, and you will get better services. Therefore, we want to call upon Ugandans to participate in this exercise,” Dr. Baryomunsi urged.

The Executive Director of UBOS, Dr Chris Mukiza speaking at the same function thanked the government of Uganda for contributing 98 per cent to fund the National Population and Housing Census 2024.

“This one is the first of its kind. In the previous one of 2014, the government-funded 75 per cent and then partners funded 25 per cent so now we are becoming self-sustaining, and this shows the strong interest and commitment the government of Uganda has in evidence-based planning and policy management,” he said.

“We want to thank you, Your Excellency, for your commitment. I always tell people that you are the biggest user of statistics in Uganda.”

He further noted that the census 2024 will help to evaluate the performance of the National Development Plan III (NDP) which will end Next Financial Year. “It will also give us baseline data for NDPIV,” he said.

The representative of the UNFPA in Uganda, Ms. Gift Malunga commended the Government of Uganda for prioritizing the 2024 National Population and Housing Census. This commitment, she said, is evident in the impressive track record of funding the majority of previous census undertakings.

“Notably, the government has pledged to cover a remarkable 91% of the cost for this upcoming census, demonstrating their unwavering dedication to this crucial national exercise. This stands in stark contrast to the previous two censuses in 2014 and 2002, where government funding still exceeded 80%. Such consistent and substantial financial support is truly commendable and sets a positive example for other nations,” Ms Malunga said.

She furthermore commended the government’s bold embrace of technology and innovation saying, that by opting for a digital census, Uganda joins a growing trend across Africa and globally in leveraging modern tools to conduct this critical enumeration.

“This move underscores the government’s commitment to efficiency, accuracy, and transparency, ultimately leading to a more robust and reliable census outcome,” Malunga further noted.

She on behalf of the Development Partners reiterated the unwavering commitment to the success of the 2024 Uganda National Population and Housing Census.

Dr. Albert Byamugisha, the Chairperson of the UBOS Board of Directors disclosed that the UBOS Act No. 2 of June 11th, 1998, establishes the bureau as a principal data collecting and disseminating agency responsible for the coordinating, monitoring and supervising the national statistical system.

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“In line with this mandate, the bureau undertakes periodic surveys such as price surveys where we generate consumer price index and inflation rates, the Uganda National Household surveys where we generate poverty estimates, the National Labour force surveys where we generate unemployment rates and the Uganda Demographics Surveys among others. Regarding the censuses, the Bureau undertakes the National Population and Housing Census, the Census of Business Establishment, the Census of Agriculture and Aquaculture and the National Livestock Census,” he said.

Mr. Byamugisha also commended the government under the wise leadership of President Museveni for championing this significant milestone of the 2024 census launch approving the census activity and gazetting 9th May 2024 for the census night and also approving the funds for the census activities.

The event was also attended by Ministers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, and Members of Parliament, among other dignitaries.

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