In Summary
  • The census was a great opportunity to gather the data necessary for the achievement of the Big Four Agenda.
  • We could have captured such data as household income, unique digital address, insurance cover and conducted the country's skill inventory.
  • The use of electronic capture, a first in Kenya’s census, was innovative to say the least, but we should have taken advantage to address one of the most critical problems in the country.
  • We can make do with what was captured but future census should take into consideration many important variables.

The census came in overalls and looked like work to the enumerators.

After carefully listening to their questions, I concluded that they lost a great opportunity.

It was just as Thomas Edison once said: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

The exercise was a great opportunity to gather the data necessary for the achievement of the Big Four Agenda, the president’s legacy agenda, but they missed that opportunity.

It would not have taken a minute longer to ask questions such as: Do you have medical insurance? National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF)? Is your home under mortgage?  Indeed a few more questions would have been useful to some of the critical policies in education and social services such as determining national skills inventory.

Data is the fuel of better decision-making. As the country deliberates on how to provide health insurance, it is critically important to know who has health insurance and whether it is through a public or private insurance provider.

This is the only way to establish the number of uninsured people who are likely to receive less medical care and possibly worse health outcomes.

It is estimated that the number of people insured under NHIF is 7.5 million. About 2 million others have private healthcare insurance but this has not translated to health outcomes envisaged under universal healthcare.

The census could have validated these numbers, as they are essential to establishing the precise number of people who lack insurance and are basically a fiscal burden to themselves and their families.

The census came at the height of a discourse on education reforms. We have Kenyans studying all over the world but we have never attempted to establish the country’s skills inventory.

Questions simply focused on the level of education attained but that would have been followed with what they consider their skills to be.

This would have helped to establish a rudimental number of different skills the country has at the moment. We could then have used the numbers to strategically deal with another Agenda Four item like Manufacturing, which has been evading the country for many years.

INNOVATIVE

The use of electronic capture, a first in Kenya’s census, was innovative to say the least, but we should have taken advantage to address one of the most critical problems in the country – the lack of the national addressing system.

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