Sierra Leone’s population grew by almost 450, 000 to 7,541,641 but doubts remain as to the credibility of the figures

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 June 2022:

Sierra Leone’s Chief Census Officer yesterday announced what he described as provisional results for the country’s 2021 Census that was conducted last year. The Chief Census Officer, who doubles as the Statistician-General of Statistics Sierra Leone (Stats-SL) – Professor Osman Sankoh said that Statistics Sierra Leone now has a reliable set of national population data to support local and national development planning.

He said that henceforth they will be able to provide Locality, Ward, Section, Chiefdom, District and Regional level population data in a timely manner. “We wish to emphasise that before the Mid-Term Census was conducted, Stats SL was most of the time unable to provide data to development partners and other institutions requesting specific area-based population data…Today, the results of our digital cartography and digital enumeration will provide answers”, says Prof. Sankoh.

He said the results would assist government in identifying the social and economic status of the citizens in the country. “This will help government to devise interventions necessary to leapfrog the vulnerable in our society from their current socio-economic status”, he said. (Photo below: Professor Sankoh).

But serious questions are being asked as to why regions described as ruling party strongholds should see a massive increase in their population – by hundreds of thousands in some cases, enough to keep the ruling SLPP in power at next year’s general election, whereas opposition northern and western regions recorded huge decline.

In 2015, there were over two and a half million people recorded in the northern region (the highest in the country), but the 2021 census show a loss of 5, 320 in the number of people living in the north, with the eastern region now showing the highest population in the country with 1,939,122.

Analysts say that this reduction in the 2015 northern region population is due to the breaking up of the northern region into two separate regions – northeast and northwest. This means that the combined northern region saw a reduction of its population by 5, 320, according to the latest data.

The 2021 census data is also now showing the ruling SLPP political southern region with the second highest population of 1,830,881 people; and northeastern region showing 1,316,831; and the northwestern region recording a population of 1,186,050.

With the east and southern regions now showing a combined increase of 686,325 in their populations – according to Statistics Sierra Leone 2021 census (east 296,752 and south 389,573 respectively), it is now going to be extremely difficult for the ruling SLPP to lose next year’s general election.

Freetown – the Western Area (urban and rural) of Sierra Leone, an opposition APC stronghold now shows a population of 1,268,757, with urban Freetown losing over 40% of its population according to Statistics Sierra Leone 2021 census – from 1,055, 964 in 2015 to 606,701, prompting Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr to write on her twitter feed: “Freetown is experiencing unprecedented rural-urban migration, with increased informal settlements and significant overcrowding straining service delivery. Freetown City Council property rate database has more that 107, 000 houses, excluding slums. [It is] incredulous to see claim that the city’s population (WAU) has almost halved.”

Speaking at the launch of the provisional 2021 Census data, Professor Sankoh said that everyone in Sierra Leone was counted where he or she slept on the Census Night of December 9th, adding that the population reported was the “census night population”, where people slept on that night, whether or not those were their usual places of residence.

“It is an established fact that for various reasons, people move to their hometowns and villages to be counted there. We call this phenomenon the influential one night in-country census migration”, he explained.

Professor Sankoh announced that the population of Sierra Leone now stands at 7,541,641 – an increase of 449,528 (6%) since 2015, with 3,716,263 males and 3,825,378 females.

Opposition politicians say they are very unhappy with the provisional data published by Statistics Sierra Leone and are calling for investigation.

Some are calling for the entire 2021 census figures to be scrapped and Professor Sankoh to be sacked, accused of massaging the census figures in favour of the ruling SLPP party for political advantage at next year’s general election.

You can read the provisional 2021 census data here:




  1. I personally believe that these numbers reflected in the 2018 presidential elections campaign. The SLPP won the first and second rounds amidst the incumbent and financial advantages of the APC. Thankfully, with the parliamentary elections, the judiciary reversed the illegal conduct of the APC from 10 constituencies.
    Former President Earnest Koroma has finally reunited the South Easterners based on the fact that he humiliated his two Vice Presidents from these regions. Going back to history, the only reason why the SLPP lost the 1967 parliamentary elections and the 2007 presidential elections was due to their breakaway members who formed the Independent parties and Mr. Charles Margai consecutively. The 2012 election was due to the cancellation of ballots from Kailahun district by Christiana Thorpe.
    My humble prediction is, with the current unity within the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) , they will likely be the ANC party of South Africa that has been in power consistently.

  2. “It is an established fact that for various reasons, people move to their hometowns and villages to be counted there. We call this phenomenon the influential one night in-country census migration”, he explained.

    But is it the case that on the census night most people in Western Urban went to their homelands in the South East and not the other regions for the census?

  3. These figures look dubious. Do Statistics-SL really believe that there are more people in Western Rural (662,056) than Western Urban or Freetown (606,701)? This should be the joke of the century.

    There were 1,059,049 people in Western Urban (Freetown) and 442,941 people in Western Rural in 2015. In other words, Western Urban’s population was two and half times larger than Western Rural’s. Any decent professional would have cancelled the entire exercise when faced with such a gross anomaly that offends common sense.

    No census should be conducted in an atmosphere with high levels of mistrust. A census should not just count those who are willing to participate, but the entire population.

    When the level of abstention or variance is very high as in this case, one can only conclude that the basic standards of a census have not been met. The outcome serves no useful purpose other than, perhaps, advancing a political agenda.

    This may explain why the World Bank and the European Union pulled out of the exercise last year. Reputations are won and lost on matters that advance the public interest—not partisan interests. This has been a huge waste of public funds.

  4. Data is an intrinsic part of today’s world–everyday individuals and businesses generate tones of data that can only be visualized and understood by trained experts and not fake degree holders. Statistics provide the means and tools to find structure in big data and give countries, individuals, and organizations a deeper insight into what truths their data is showing.

    Data Science is a scientific discipline, one that’s highly informed and dictated by computer science, mathematics, research, and applied sciences. In Sierra Leone, data is an integral part of today’s economic prosperity – everyday individuals and corporations generate tones of data that can only be visualized and understood by qualified experts.

    Experts in statistics provide the means and tools to find structure in big data and give individuals, countries, and organizations a deeper insight into what truths their data is showing where improvements are strongly needed. Statistics is one of the most fundamental steps of an insightful data science census–it’s also the foundation that ties the whole process of growth together from start to fruitful finish.

    Finding structure in data, however large or small, and making predictions are crucial stages in data science that can generate or damage research and advancements in a country. To stagnate a county’s economic growth, employ inadequate statisticians who have no statistical education would introduce methods that are not tools of decision using good practices and methods. With training and education, one can handle a plethora of analytical tasks to achieve good results. The mantra between unmitigated statisticians is garbage in, garbage out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.