Pretoria – Minister in the Presidency for National Planning Trevor Manuel is satisfied and confident with the processes involved in the delivery of Census 2011.
Speaking at a tour of Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) data processing centre on Monday, Manuel expressed confidence in the good oversight exercised by the statistical body in ensuring that processes in gathering data were of a good standard.
He said it was fundamentally important for South Africa to know how many citizens it had as well as their access to services such as water and energy.
South Africa embarked on its third national census since the advent of democracy on 10 October to 31 October followed by mop-up operations that begun in November.
The questionnaires were being delivered to the centre for processing of details into data.
The sealed questionnaires are transported to the centre by trucks where they are then received and scanned to co-ordinate with data stored on computers after which it goes to temporary store. Following this process, the questionnaires (which come to the centre in boxes) are scanned by a zip-zip scan. Each questionnaire has its own unique bar-code.
During the data capturing phase of the census, approximately 225 million pages will be handled and scanned over the six-month period which begins this month.
During the process, the pages of the questionnaires are separated so that they can be scanned.
Census project director Calvin Molongoana said 880 temporary staff had been appointed for the job with 220 people working per shift at the 24-hour centre. Molongoana added that the Pretoria premises were access controlled with staff not being allowed to enter the room where boxes of questionnaires are kept with anything flammable on them. Data at the centre is backed up daily.
“I’m pretty satisfied with the processes,” said the minister, adding that there were risks associated with the transporting of boxes. The minister said trucks transporting the questionnaires were monitored and that their whereabouts were known at any given moment.
“The information will tell us everything we need to know about ourselves.
The centre is expecting a total of 135 000 boxes to come for processing. The centre has the capacity to scan an A4 box of paper per minute.
“The process is complex, there is no room for error,” said Manuel, adding that results were expected to be released in November 2012.
“We are ready to convert information into electronic information. We are ready to ensure that all the data collected gets to be processed that will be able to inform the total number of people in the country and even their living circumstances,” Deputy Director-General for population and social statistics, Kefiloe Masiteng said.
Masiteng added that since the beginning of the census there has been issues with the payment of field staff who were to have been paid by 10 November. “Ninety-nine percent were paid with 1 354 cases not being paid,” she explained. Some of the reasons for this included Stats SA having to re-issue cards to workers and in some cases workers losing their pins for payment processes to go through. “By today we’ve paid them,” said Masiteng.
In terms of gender representation, data has shown that 34% of the fieldworkers were men and 66% were women. Most of the fieldworkers were aged between 20 and 29.
Nearly 775 000 man hours will go into ensuring that accurate data is made available.
The census (from the beginning until the release of the results) has a R3.2 billion budget. – BuaNews