Opinion: Botswana Population Census From A Knowledge Engineer's Perspective

I always see professionals, economists, financial analysts, lawyers, etc analysing topics on the population census. I have decided to do it from an unorthodox background and I hope this will be interesting for you the reader. 

A couple of things spark my interest:

  1. The budget (P363 million)
  2. The kind of questions asked
  3. The method used to conduct it.

In a utopian state where our ICT infrastructure is at par, we should not spend P363 million to conduct such an exercise. Looking at the institutions the government is in control of, they should be able to assemble a team of data scientists who can crunch numbers and be able to estimate the approximate number of our population without leaving their seats. 

In an ideal world, the data that comes from the below institutions should be enough for the assembled team to determine the population:

Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS)

There is enough data from the current BURS platform to determine how many people are paying tax and how much they are paying. By knowing how much they earn one can determine their standard of living without asking them when was the last time they ate rice. There are better metrics that can gauge a person’s standard of living. The challenge will be in the informal sector, which is why we really need to improve on our tech social entrepreneurship that will service such marginalised people such that data from them can be used when it comes to such endeavours. 

Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) 

The current platform has enough information about companies such that if combined with data from BURS, one can deduce who owns what, how much their companies are making, and how much directors make relative to how they compensate their employees.

Department of Immigration 

Ideally, the immigration department should have data about who comes in out of the country and foreigners working in the country.

Ministry of Health 

They have information about who is born, who passed away and when.


How many students schools have, who they are, who their guardians and parents are, etc. Combined with data from MOH, BURS, and the rest, one can deduce very meaningful information.

These are just a few examples, there are a lot more.

All this data from different sources, if synergized and integrated, can do a much better job in the most economic way than the current method. Of course, there will be loopholes just as there are in the current method (for instance, no one has come to my house to count us) but you would have done it in the most economical and effective way.

By embracing technology, Botswana can leapfrog and become one of the best countries in the world. 

By Johane Tsietsonyana

Johannes has 10 years of experience in software engineering, procurement and finance. He is also the founder of epapadi.com which is a marketplace that aspires to create a single agile supply chain, where vendors and customers can come together as a group and leverage the economics of scale.

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