ICT-enabled census to make a difference in DRC
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo
It has been exactly 30 years since the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conducted its last general census. It took several months to know the results of that census due to challenges of logistics, technology and incompetency, among others, in this vast mineral-rich country.
But this time authorities say things will be different. The country’s ministry of plan says the 2nd edition of the general census of the population and habitat (RGPH2) will be enabled with new ICTs to ensure that the process goes fast, smooth and faultless.
Prof Denis Nzita, general coordinator of Central Office for Census (BCR), said enumerators who will go out to collect data will use PDAs, to instantly transmit all the information back to the processing centre in the capital Kinshasa.
Nzita said Kinshasa will then process all the information coming from the provinces without delay and begin publishing the results by early 2015.
The DRC’s general census, which will kick off ‘soon’, is set to cost US$140 million, Nzita said.
Partners of the 2014 census include the World Bank, the African Bank of Development, the European Union and UNFPA.
“Africa is a continent of many challenges, and these include technology, road infrastructure, transport, telecommunications and corruption, and the only alternative is to always use the ICTs in such highly challenging environments to ensure that the work is made simple and the results are near perfect,” ICT teacher Euloge Samba told Biztechafrica.
In Africa, only 52% of the population live in a country that has conducted a census, compared with 99% of Europeans and 95% of Asians, the United Nations said.
“In Africa, the primary obstacles that hamper the conducting of an accurate general census include funding crisis, political instability, lack of expertise and adequate planning, and skills shortage,” Samba said.
“In the case of the DRC, the government also needs to ensure that enumerators are properly trained to use these ICT-enabled machines, and that these tools are not faulty. And lastly these agents are paid what they deserve and get it on time in order to motivate them,” he added.
The UN said most African countries that used new technology for the first time experienced problems in operating scanning machines due to a lack of proper training.