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: