The 2024 Census officially begins as Statistician-General Sanyang briefs the press

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Nyakassi Sanyang, Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) Statistician General

By: Kebba Ansu Manneh

Nyakassi Sanyang, the Statistician General of the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS), announced Thursday that the much-anticipated 2024 census has begun. During a press briefing, he explained that the key issues that had delayed the start of the 2024 Population and Housing Census have been resolved, ensuring a smooth process for this year’s exercise.

He told Journalists at GBOS head office in Kanfing that adjusting the census application system, withdrawing recruited data collectors, delaying allowance payments, and taxing fieldwork income were the key issues that derailed the start of the census.

The Statistician-General (SG) made these statements, among others, on Thursday, May 30th, 2024, at GBoS Headquarters. He said that more than six thousand enumerators and supervisors have been assigned to their various enumeration areas to ensure each country region is enumerated.

“GBoS has recruited 5309 enumerators and 1087 supervisors that will be visiting each part of the country and each household during the census enumeration period. Each of the 5309 enumerators has been assigned one enumeration area that he/she is responsible for catering within the assigned time of the enumeration area,” SG Nyakassi Sanyang disclosed.

He added: “The Fieldworks are assisted by 34 Regional and Deputy RCOs, 34 data monitors, 53 District ICT Officers, 45 Mappers, and 99 support staff. GBoS planned to start the enumeration phase with the listing operation on Saturday, May 25th, 2024. However, this cannot be possible.”

He continued to state that adjusting the census application system, withdrawing recruited data collectors, delaying the payment of allowances, and taxation of fieldwork income were the key issues that derailed the start of the census. He added that these issues have been addressed, as manifested by the start of the listing process in some local government areas.

The GBoS Supremo explained that the census application system was initially designed to decentralize the entire census process, where applicants were expected to apply and work in their regions. However, some regions needed adjustments and transfers due to shortages of field workers. These adjustments and transfers mean readjusting the census application program to factor in the new scenario.

“To Track payments, ” a digital form was created at the start of the leading census training to capture all participants’ mobile money transfer details. However, getting this information from the various centers was a big challenge as the regional census officers struggled to stabilize the centers. Many participants also filed the form in different centers and multiple mobile money platforms in anticipation of receiving multiple payments for the same activity,” SG outlined.

He added, “The account officers, in an attempt to validate the payment information of all participants, detected these unacceptable ‘smart moves’ by some participants. Furthermore, several people used the same payment numbers (as opposed to their mobile money account credentials), which, if processed without rectification, could lead to audit queries.”

The Statistician-General also disclosed that his office ensured a thorough censing of data to remove duplicates resulting from multiple submissions, adding that this process took a fair share of time to commence payment of enumerators and supervisors, most of whom have already received their payments.

He highlighted that the issue of taxation on the earnings of the census fieldworkers was not imposed by GBoS nor its partners but rather a requirement based on the 2012 Income and Value Added Tax (IVAT) Act, clarifying that recruited data collectors who participated in census training were each catered D700 for a meal and D300 transport refund but not the misconceptions that portray that trainees allowances are pegged at D1000.

He called on all Gambians to exercise patience and allow data collectors and census officers to carry on with this most important national duty. He also called on the general public to always give accurate information to the data collectors.

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