SA’s population has increased to 62 million — a challenge for government to provide basic services
In some areas, access to basic services from the government is growing but the services being provided are not reliable. This is more so in the provision of water to households, which faces major disruptions.
South Africa’s population has increased from 51.7 million in 2011 to 62 million in 2022, and the government is increasingly finding it difficult to provide basic services that are reliable and face no major disruptions to the populace.
The census 2022, which was conducted by Statistics South Africa and the findings of which were unveiled on Tuesday 10 October, has found the government’s provision of most basic services to the population has largely increased since 2011. This was when the last census was conducted by Statistics South Africa.
The good news is that between 2011 and 2022, more households had access to piped water and those without water have been declining. Over this period, more households had access to a flush toilet while the use of bucket toilets was also reported to have declined. And the proportion of households being electrified and using electricity has also increased.
But the bad news is that while access to services from the government is growing, the services being provided are not reliable. This is more so in the provision of piped water to households, which faces major disruptions.
The census has found that the number of households increased from 14.4 million in 2011 to 17.8 million in 2022, with most (or 65%) of these being considered formal dwellings (made with brick/concrete structures).
Of the 17.8 million households in 2022, almost half have experienced water interruptions for two or more consecutive days. Of the households, the Northern Cape had the highest proportion of experienced water cuts (65.8%), followed by the Northwest (65.2%), Mpumalanga (60.9%), Eastern Cape (59.2%), KwaZulu-Natal (57%), and Limpopo (54.5%). The lowest occurrence of water disruption was recorded in the Western Cape (27.7%) and Gauteng (40.5%) was considered to have the least water interruptions by the census respondents. Most households (about 70.8%) had access to a flush toilet across South Africa, but pit latrines (without ventilation) accounted for 12.5% and 2.1% for bucket toilets.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Water shedding is our next big challenge, but it can be prevented if we tackle the causes now
Power to South Africa
The census data did not delve into interruptions to other services, mainly electricity. In a briefing with journalists, Statistics South Africa officials said people who participated in the census were not asked about disruptions to electricity. The question will be asked in a follow-up survey that seeks to verify or correct the initial census findings.
The main finding of the census on electricity is that the proportion of households using electricity as the main source for lighting increased from 84.7% in 2011 to 94.7%. The use of paraffin and candles as the main source of energy for lighting also decreased over this period. Statistics South Africa found that electricity was the main source of energy for lighting across all provinces, with 94.7% of the 17.8 million households reporting so.
Another problem that the government is grappling with is homelessness across the country. There were 55,719 homeless people as recorded in the census 2022, with most people without a roof over their heads being in Gauteng (25,384), the Western Cape (9,743), and KwaZulu-Natal (7,768). The main reason given for homelessness by both men and women was joblessness, underscoring the economic and unemployment crisis gripping the nation.
The census 2022 excludes income and expenditure data, mortality, employment, and unemployment data to extrapolate changes in poverty, inequality, and quality of life trends. In the previous census, Statistics South Africa included such data, but its officials said the data is published by the agency separately.
South Africa’s population now stands at 62 million, with all provinces recording a growth in their population since 2011. Gauteng recorded the highest population (15 million), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (12.4 million), while the Northern Cape and Free State reported the lowest population sizes of 1.4 million and 2.9 million respectively.
The 62 million population constituted 51.5% of women while 48.5% were men. Black Africans remain the dominant population group at 81.4%, followed by the coloured population at 8.2%. The white population percentage decreased to 7.3% in 2022 from 8.9% in 2011, while the percentage for Indians/Asians increased slightly from 2.5% in 2011 to 2.7% in 2022. Statistics South Africa officials said the white people population has been declining since 1996 but the reason for this is not known. It could be due to a range of factors, including emigration trends.
South Africa remains a young population with the country’s median age increasing to 28 years in 2022 from 25 years in 2011. South Africa is a country that also continues to see an increase in the arrival of international migrants. There were more than 2.4 million international migrants, which equates to 3% of the population. Most of the migrants came from Zimbabwe (45%), followed by Mozambique (18.7%) and Lesotho (10.2%).
The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns delayed the execution and release of the census, which was initially scheduled to be released in 2021. It was also the first census that was conducted digitally, in addition to door-to-door surveying by Statistics South Africa agents. When asked if conducting the census digitally would distort its findings considering that access to the internet remains a challenge in South Africa, Statistics South Africa said this factor was considered. The officials said its online platform for people to participate in its census did not require mobile data/internet because it was zero-rated. DM