South Africa's 10-yearly population census kicks off

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South Africa on Wednesday launched its once-in-a-decade population census to collect data that will help the government's policy formulation and planning, the statistics agency has said.

The census started with an army of enumerators counting the homeless, people in hospitals, prisons and communal living quarters known as hostels, among other places.

People departing the country via airports or land borders just before midnight Thursday were also counted.

It will be the fourth population count conducted in post-apartheid South Africa.

Initially scheduled for October last year, it was postponed due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

For the first time, respondents have the option to furnish their details online.

In 2016, South Africa's population stood at 55.7 million, according to official figures.

Collected data will update demographic information as well as mortality and fertility rates, and migration trends.

South Africa, the most industrialised economy on the continent is a magnet for migrants from poorer countries.

At the last count in 2011, the statistics agency counted more than 2.2 million migrants living within its borders.

Other data to be gathered during the census include education and income levels, and food security.

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