The population of South Africa has experienced significant growth, increasing from 51 million to 62 million in slightly over a decade. According to an economist, this population growth can be seen as advantageous. Nevertheless, a crucial concern arises regarding the ability of the government to effectively manage and adapt to this rapid expansion, given its current challenges in keeping up with the pace of growth.

By Lezeth Khoza

The long-anticipated census data from Statistics South Africa was made public on Tuesday, providing valuable insights into the current state of the South African population.

The data reveals a significant increase, with the population growing from 51 million in 2011 to 62 million.

According to the data, Gauteng remains the province with the highest population, totalling slightly over 15 million people. In contrast, the North West Province has a significantly smaller population, with only 1.3 million people.

The report also showed an increase in the number of people who were not born in South Africa but are currently living in the country.

Approximately 1,012 million Zimbabweans live in the country. Over the course of 11 years, this number has grown, indicating that foreigners now constitute 3% of the total population.

The census was conducted between February and May of 2022.

President Cyril Ramaphosa received the census results from Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke during a formal ceremony held at the Union Buildings.

“I congratulate the Statistician-General Mr Risenga Maluleke and Stats SA teams for ensuring that we have a credible census. I call on government departments, policymakers, researchers, civil society organisations and international organisations to use this information abundantly as we collectively strive to improve people’s lives.

“We now have the information we need to ensure that we build this country, we leave no one behind,” said Ramaphosa.

The report further shows a significant increase in the number of households, which has nearly doubled from 9.1 million in 1996 to 17.8 million in 2022.

During an interview with SA FM Radio, Maluleke acknowledged that there were certain difficulties encountered during the census process.

“In a census, you are not going to reach out to everyone, you will arrive, and you will find that when you knock at their dwelling you do not find them, either they are away at work or for some reason in some areas when our field workers are there, they do not reach to them.

“There were a lot of quiet challenges for our field workers not to reach out to all of them, but when such things do happen we have a way of compensating for that as a country. We have what we call a Post-Enumeration Survey, so we sample a percentage of the population, and it is a large sample.

“We go back, and we compare record for record, in that regard we can see how many people we have counted double and how many we have missed,” said Maluleke.

According to Dawie Roodt, Chief Economist and Executive Director for the Efficient Group, an increasing population is indeed beneficial. However, he points out that the South African government is struggling to keep pace with this growth.

“The problem in South Africa is that the quality of our population (generally inferior education) means that we do not have very productive workers. Also, because of a mostly incompetent and often corrupt government, the economy is not keeping pace with population growth. At this rate we will eventually experience a serious financial/economic crisis,” he said.

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