By SisaySahlu

ADDIS ABEBA – Central Statistics Agency (CSA) has shrugged off accusations that have put its neutrality into questions. 

Ethiopia will hold its first population and housing census in more than a decade, a step that could have far-reaching consequences for the Horn of Africa nation that’s grappling with multi-ethnic representation and rippling demands for self-determination.

BiratuYigezu, director general of CSA, told The Daily Monitor that the agency has been carrying out censuses every ten years in three different regimes without having major problems of impartiality.

“We don’t have any reasons to align ourselves to any specific political party, religion, ethnic group or any other particular group,” he said. “That’s why we always stick with universal statistics principles.”

The newly registered party, National Movement of Amhara Party, has accused the agency of engaging in inappropriate practices while conducting the previous national censuses, including underreporting. 

The party’s officials also said CSA, which carries out the census in Ethiopia, has not gone through any reforms “and, therefore, is still susceptible to repeat the mistakes”. 

The director, however, downplayed the issue.

It is “a mistake for anyone to say something without speaking with us and having proper knowledge on how we conduct the census”, he said in an interview.

Ethiopia’s last census was in 2007, and the constitution requires one every 10 years. Security issues in parts of the country has forced officials to extend the time table of the census, which will cost the country at least 67 million USD, twice.

The outcome of the previous national census was a subject of heated debate among legislators in 2007 for a similar reason. Starting mid-April, the national census is planned to be completed within 15 days. Meanwhile the result of the census is expected to be revealed in five months. Currently, World Bank estimates the total population of Ethiopia to be around 104 million, though the CSA’s projection shows it to be less than 100 million. (the daily monitor )