The last national population census was released in 2006. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has used the data of the National Population Commission to produce estimates by state, age and gender through to 2016. These show a sharp rise in the total from 140.4 million in 2006 to 193.4 million this year, and a current annual growth rate of 3.3%. If the population is growing at this rate, we can understand why policymakers target double-digit GDP growth to make an impact on living standards.
The census in Nigeria has traditionally been politicized due to its influence on revenue distribution by government. The last exercise is not, however, greatly out of sync with international data series.
The UN’s World Population Prospects has a total of 182.2 million for Nigeria in 2015, which compares with the NBS estimate of 187.3 million for the year extrapolated from the 2006 census.
Kano (13.1 million) and Lagos (12.6 million) are the most populated states in 2016. The rather higher estimates in circulation for Lagos are presumably based on the daytime population to include commuters. No other state has a population above 10 million.
The age profile in 2016 confirms the picture of the young population. The estimates have 41.8% under the age of 15 and the largest segment (54.9%) in the officially defined labour force of between 15 and 64 years. Those aged 65 years and above account for just 3.3% of the population.
A new census is due for release, we understand, in 2018. As the new national accounts provided an accurate snapshot of the economy for all interested parties, we hope that the new census will meet the highest standards. The demographics are already good in that they underpin the Africa rising narrative. We suspect that they can be still better qualitatively. We expect to see some marked shifts within the country since 2006 such as away from the north east, and towards both the south west and the FCT.
The beneficiaries would include planning teams across government and in the private sector. Any supplier of goods and services would welcome an updated and reliable national census.