South African population grew to 62 million last year, census data shows

By Kopano Gumbi

PRETORIA (Reuters) – South Africa’s population rose to 62 million people last year from 51.8 million in 2011, according to census data from the statistics agency released on Tuesday.

The census found roughly eight in 10 people were Black African in 2022, while less than one in 10 people were white.

Statistics South Africa said there were more than 2.4 million migrants in South Africa last year, with the highest percentage coming from neighbouring Zimbabwe at 45.5%, followed by Mozambique and Lesotho.

“Migration between countries is driven largely by the quest for economic opportunities, political instability and increasingly, environmental hazards,” said Stats SA.

This was only the fourth census since the first democratic elections following the end of apartheid in 1994, and the first in over a decade due to disruptions in data collection caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a first for South Africa, the census was conducted entirely online.

President Cyril Ramaphosa applauded the statistics agency for this, adding that the information was critical for government planning.

“It is going to help us inform how the budget should be structured,” said Ramaphosa at a media briefing following release of the census, adding that the data would also inform how the country’s resources would be used and distributed.

Data showed more women attained a higher education qualification than men in South Africa during the period, despite recent figures showing a higher unemployment rate for women than men.

In the second quarter of 2023, women’s unemployment rate stood at 35.7% while was at 30% for men.

There was an improvement in access to decent housing as data showed only 8.1% of households reported living in informal dwellings in 2022 compared to 13.6% in 2011.

However, information related to household assets – a measure of the living standards in the country – were held back in this census due to a lack of sufficient data.

Other data yet to be finalised that is usually part of the census included income and wealth distributions, mortality and unemployment, all important metrics that show whether the country has reduced poverty and inequality.

South Africa will hold its national elections next year and the latest census figures will be instructive for all political and government bodies looking to solve the challenges plaguing the country.

(Reporting by Kopano Gumbi; Additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Alexander Winning and Bill Berkrot)