PHILADELPHIIA -- Tukufu Zuberi, a University of Pennsylvania sociology professor, will lead a Jan. 15-17 conference in Dakar, Senegal, addressing the development and use of African census data to understand social changes in the continent.
The gathering will bring together African scholars, officials from various African census bureaus and policy makers from different African nations to share census findings and to plan future research activities. Representatives from more than 20 African nations will attend.
The welcome address will be delivered by Herbert Kandeh, president of the Union for African Population Studies, and Zuberi will be the keynote speaker.
Workshop sessions will include "Education, Children and Labor Force Participation in Africa," "Fertility Transitions in Africa," "Mortality Trends and Patterns in the Era of HIV/AIDS" and "Migration and Population Settlements in Africa."
Innovative techniques in census analysis will be explored in a panel discussion chaired by Kenneth Hill of the School of Hygiene and Public Health at John Hopkins University. Panelists will draw on evidence from the 1988 Senegal census to discuss ethnic diversity, assimilation and fertility in that country. The undercount in a recent post-enumeration survey in South Africa will also be discussed.
Zuberi will provide an overview of the Pan African Census Explorer, an analysis engine that Penn African Census Analysis Project is developing. It integrates user-friendly software to produce indicators and reports. The new technology allows users to enhance demographic research by analyzing African census data with ease.
Zuberi directs the African Census Analysis Project, ACAP, a joint initiative of Penn Population Studies Center and of African institutions specializing in demographic research and training. This initiative began four years ago to maximize the use of African census data for academic and policy-oriented research benefiting both African governments and individuals interested in African research.
Under Zuberi leadership, ACAP is organizing the Senegal conference in conjunction with the Union for African Population Studies and the Institut de Formation et de Recherche Dmographiques. It is the fourth such international conference on African census analysis efforts to be held since ACAP creation in 1997.
"Most census data collected in developing countries prior to the 1970s had been destroyed due to poor archiving," Zuberi said. Historically, survey research was the major method used to compile demographic data in Africa. But without extensive, scientific analysis, this type of research did little to improve understanding of Africa social structure.
Survey research at the national level still has a role to play, according to Zuberi. Census data allows researchers to study demographic processes and estimate micro levels, trends and differentials of phenomena such as household structure, nuptiality, fertility, mortality and migration. To date, ACAP has obtained and archived 40 censuses from more than 20 African nations.
A group of African scholars is currently conducting analyses of all census data ACAP has compiled to date. In addition, graduate students from various African countries are using the data to write their doctoral dissertations. Their research manuscripts are being published in the ACAP Working Paper Series as well as in other scholarly journals and also being presented at various international seminars and conferences.