PACE | Census Navigator | Census Explorer | Census Guide


African census micro-data are an invaluable source of information for understanding demographic processes in Africa. The ACAP data bank is joint initiative of the University of Pennsylvania and African institutions to archive African census data, thus preventing some of them from further destruction. This initiative was started as an effort to maximize the utilization of African census micro-data for academic and policy oriented research that is beneficial both to African governments and African scholars. This includes promoting the use of modern demographic and statistical techniques to analyze census micro-data for a better understanding of the demography of Africa. To date, ACAP has created a unique census micro-data collection. The current collection consists of more than 40 censuses from over 20 countries including censuses for some former states of South Africa. Negotiations for additional data sets continue to progress, and we expect the addition of a substantial number of African censuses over the subsequent years. For example, we have concluded agreements with several countries. Most African nations and various other regional organizations are collaborating with us in this international effort.



Doing demographic analysis from census data requires serious computing support. Census micro-data require large disk space for storage and substantial memory for analysis. The Pan-African Census Explorer being developed aims to archive census micro-data and make them accessible by providing a tool for guided application of demographic and statistical methods to census data. PACE puts together the necessary computer technology to produce a user-friendly environment for both researchers and Bureaus of Census officials.

The Pan-African Census Explorer (PACE) will facilitate easy access to census data for demographic and statistical analysis. Eventually, country specific versions of PACE could be available to the government agencies to facilitate easy distribution of the data.

PACE consists of three interfaces: CENSUS NAVIGATOR, CENSUS GUIDE and CENSUS EXPLORER. The first interface, CENSUS NAVIGATOR, assists users in obtaining general information on African census data. The second interface, CENSUS GUIDE, allows users to take full advantage of PACE data processing and analytics development. This interface gives the user full access to a suite of analytics and Internet based data analysis on grouped data. Many researchers are interested in having the ability to manipulate the data in unique ways. These high-end users are primarily interested in the third component of PACE, CENSUS EXPLORER. Census Explorer allows for maximum flexibility while taking advantage of PACE data processing (standard data and meta-data). While a prototype of the Census Navigator is currently online, PACE is currently under construction. The Census Navigator will be available by the end of 2002 with the Guide and Explorer following in subsequent years.

Data access

ACAP obtains census micro-data from various African nations and process them (i.e., create samples, clean, make them machine-readable and then harmonizes the data for integrating into the Pan-African Census Explorer, PACE). The quality of the data we obtain varies across years and countries. For this reason, we create standard data sets for each country that are researcher-friendly. Comparing results (frequencies, general indicators) with the results published by the Bureau of Census and creating some reports on data quality help in this process of data validation. Standard data sets are made available at both individual and household levels with a unique code for use when merging the two levels.

Several African governments trust us with their complete censuses but the data remain the property of these respective African governments. Many African governments are justifiably reluctant to give anyone a copy of their complete census data. The issue of confidentiality is a major concern and most African nations remain sensitive to this issue. We have established within Africa a relationship and reputation that ACAP is a trustworthy operation.

In collaboration with our African partners, ACAP is focused on analyzing census data and the development PACE, which is a product that will facilitate easy access to African census micro-data for demographic and statistical analysis. Our objective is that African governments and scholars should have easy access to census micro-data when and where possible. PACE will eventually facilitate easy distribution of the data by government agencies. But at the current stage, ACAP is not set up to be a data dissemination project. However, in view of making data accessible to ACAP collaborators, our collaborating statistics offices in the various countries have agreed to authorize ACAP, on case-to-case basis, to disseminate data sample sets to its collaborators. Individuals who are granted this restricted access to the data on the understanding that the data are used for a specific research project and that the researchers in question will not disseminate the data to any third party.