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Zambia will go to polls for the General Elections in August of 2021. Among the critical factors for conducting an election is data on the population that is eligible to vote as this forms a basis for a voter’s registration process.

Prior to commencement of the voter’s registration exercise, there has been debate on the voter eligibility population in the country. The Electoral Commission of Zambia put the figure at nine (9) million people as eligible voters while other quarters has have put the figure at 7.2 million. There have also been suggestions that the figure should be higher than 9 million.

From a legal perspective, only the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) has the authority on official statistical matters in the country. This is in line with the Statistics Act no. 13 of 2018, Part II, Section 7(1) and I quote “The Agency is the sole designated entity responsible for the publication of official statistics”. These statistics include population statistics by age, sex, geographical location such as rural or urban as well as voter eligibility in any year. From this perspective only a statistical figure issued by the Agency is admissible in such national matters. In this respective, the Agency would like to provide guidance on the matter of estimated eligible population for 2021.

According to the current projections the following must be noted: (i) The Agency has projected a total population of 17,885,422 people in 2020; and (ii) Based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing the age structures were, a. Forty-seven (47) percent of the total population was aged 18 years and above, b. Fifty-three (53) percent were aged below 18 years.

Eligibility for voting in terms of the age is 18 years and above in Zambia. In estimating the voting eligibility population, the Agency has carried forward the eligibility population of 47 percent from the 2010 Census results. This is on the assumption that the age structure does not change much between two Census periods which in the case of Zambia spans over 10 years.

In respect of the above, the 47 percent age structure was applied to all projected district populations and *aggregated to come up with an estimate of 8,414,839 eligible voters.*

This means that any statistics issued by any persons or organisation other than the Agency are not official and have no legal basis.

It is worth-noting that population projections like other projections must be used with some caution due to associated and unavoidable limitations. In general limitations to the projections arise from several and complex interaction of social and economic factors affecting population change. One specific characteristic of population projections is that the reliability of projections decrease over time, in particular beyond five (5) years. These limitations can only be reduced through a Census of Population and Housing for which Zambia plans to conduct next year in order to have more reliable and accurate figures.

Before I conclude, let me inform the nation that the Act is very clear on issues of official statistics in the country. The Act also mandates the Agency to produce statistics, promote understanding and use of official statistics. Further, the Act requires that any person or organisation planning to undertake collection, processing, storage etc of official statistics through any instrument such as a Survey need to get authorisation from the Agency. Therefore, all surveys that aim at producing official statistics have to be authorised by the Agency.

It is important that players to acquaint themselves with the New Act as Government aims at developing an integrated National Statistical System.

Issued by the Zambia Statistics Agency

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