By Clovis Atatah, Yerima Kini Nsom, Martin A. Nkemngu and Leocadia Bongben| Friday April 16, 2010 |The Post|
Appetites wetted by publicity preceding the release of results of the third general population census Wednesday were scorched when government published sketchy demographic figures.
The Minister Delegate at the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Yaouba Abdoulaye, who chaired the census publication ceremony, announced general figures but stopped short of giving details.
The government official announced that the estimated population of Cameroon was nearly 19.5 million on January 1, 2010, with significant disparities in the populations of the various regions. The population in 2005 was 17,436,836, according to the population figures published by government.
But the figures were not completely new, as government and international bodies had earlier given similar estimates. Many journalists and researchers had expected the government to publish a detailed and elaborate report on the population census that was conducted since 2005, including specific figures of the populations of all the subdivisions in Cameroon, migration, income, living conditions, life expectancy, and other important demographic indicators.
A source at the National Census Bureau, BUCREP, told The Post Wednesday that detailed population figures will probably be published at the end of this year, adding that the figures that government released on Wednesday were only “trends”. He said the raw data of the 2005 census was still being processed and statisticians had so far done only about 50 percent of the analyses.
Official census figures reveal that, as of January 1, 2010, the Far North is the most populated region, counting 3,525,664 inhabitants, followed closely by the Centre with a population of 3,480,414 and the Littoral with 2,865,795 residents.
The two English speaking Northwest and Southwest regions each have populations of less than two million. On the fifth position, the Northwest has a population of 1,804,695 inhabitants while the Southwest, on the seventh position, has 1,384,286 residents. The South is the least populated region with 692,142 inhabitants, with the East slightly more populated with 801, 968 inhabitants.
Just like in 1987 when the second population census was conducted, the 2005 figures indicate that women are slightly more numerous than men, constituting 50.6 percent of the population.
Youth equally constitute the bulk of the population. As of December 31, 2005, half of the population was below 18, with the bulk of them less than 15-years-old. Only 5 percent of the population is over 60 years-old, most of them in rural areas.
Between 1987 and 2005, the population growth rate was 2.8 percent. The population grew significantly faster in urban areas, apparently because of migration. Urbanisation, government said, increased at a rate of 48.8 percent between 1987 and 2005. The urbanisation rate in 1976 was 28.1 percent.
Government is statutorily required to conduct a population and housing census every 10 years, but this has never happened. The first general population census was conducted in 1976, followed by that of 1987. The 2005 census was eight years late, and the preliminary results took five years to be published.
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