Nigeria’s 2023 Census Goes Digital: Improving Accuracy and Efficiency through Technology


The 2023 Census will be Nigeria’s first Digital Census and will change how the Census is being conducted in Nigeria before now. This approach started with the demarcation of enumeration areas covering the entier territorial space of Nigeria using mobile handheld device and geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite imageries to create the digital census maps.

The digital frame produced is a major tool for the planning of human and material resources for the Census. This determines the enumerators’ assignment areas and forms a basis for distribution of materials during the Census.

A population and Housing Census (PHC) is of great relevance to the economic, political and socio-cultural planning of a country. Reliable and detailed data on the size, structure, distribution and socio-economic and demographic characteristics of a country’s population is required for policy intervention and monitoring of development goals.

The 2023 census will be digital therefore increasing the acuracy of data. For the Census, electronic forms hosted in Personal Digital Assistant devices will be used to capture information on all buildings, household and persons in the EA.

For the 2023 PHC, the recruitment and training modalities will be a major deviation from the old order. A recuritment strategy is designed for an e-recruitment in collaboration with the relevant departments and particularly Public Affairs Department to give the recruitment a wide coverage at the grass root. Again, the training plan also leverages greatly on technology as training modalities adopted include virtual, self-learning and physical learning. Online trainings are scheduled to hold in phases and this has commenced in earnest.

The field operations for the next census will begin with the building and household listing as usual but digital maps will be fetched online as against carrying paper maps as of old, therefore making the entire process paperless. The output of the house numbering and household listing exercise undergoes validation by matching some key parameters including number of buildings, building uses among The 2023 PHC adopts the UN standards and has set census right as the zero hour (12 midnight) of the first Census date.

While for each household, the reference period is the time from the zero hour of the first Census day to the time a household is visited by an enumerator. The time of visitation by an enumerator must therefore be within the zero hour of the first census day to the mid-night of the last day assigned for census enumeration.

A household consists of a person or a group of persons living together under the same roof, sharing the same catering arrangement, recognizing themselves as a unit and acknowledges one adult member as the head. In the 2023 PHC, households are classified under three main categories including, Regular Households, Institutional (long or short stay), Floating/Transient. A new category introduced in the Diplomatic corps for the pecularities of their stay in the country.

A careful consideration has been given to the identification of internally Displaced Persons (IDP), a new phenomenon in the social strata of the country. It is understood that each persons can be found in varying locations in the country under different circumstances. IDPs have been created as a type of residence in the 2023 Census Questionnaire to ensure that they are captured under their varying population classification.

The Census Department from the pre-tests of the methodologies and instruments for the 2023 census have idnetified that IDPS can be within a Regular household setting, in an Institutional (Long stay) setting or in a Floating/Transient Population setting.

Sustainable data for the development of Nigeria is at the core of the census while keeping in mind the confidentiality that the Commission owes to the general public. The National Population Commission will destroy names of individuals immediately after analyzing the results.

The existing practices and obligations of the National Population Commission will ensure that no information will be released in a way that would enable users of Census data to identify any individual or household. Thus, identifiable census information will never be released or shared with anyone.

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