High Mobile phones penetration in new Census results

ACEO Samoa Bureau of Statistics, Census-Surveys Malaefono Taua with a copy of the Census Report

By Unumoe Esera

APIA: Thursday 09 August 2012: There is a 69% gap between the mobile phones penetration by the two mobile phones companies in Samoa according to the results of the 2011 Population and Housing Census released yesterday by the Bureau of Statistics.

Digicel holds 93.4 percent of subscribers compared to 24.3% who use Bluesky Samoa mobiles; this is an indication that Digicel is the preferred telecommunication company in Samoa while non-mobile phones or landlines were at 20%.

The inclusion of electronics usage in the households is a new category and the census found that 10% of households have computers and 17.3% with laptops.

Internet connection within homes was recorded at 7.3% and 3. 4% with facsimile machines.

Access to media is quite high with 80.8% of households owning television sets and 81.8% having access to radio.

Other modern electrical appliances such as microwave ovens, refrigerators, deep freezers, electric kettles, rice cookers, washing machines, DVD players, electric fans have a large percentage meaning that more people have adapted to the modern lifestyle and rarely use the traditional methods.

Microwave ovens were recorded at 31.4%, refrigerators at 47.9%, deep freezers at 27.5%, electric kettles at 77.7%, rice cookers at 31.9%, washing machines at 18.2%, DVD players at 63.1% and electric fans at 33.2%.

According to the Assistant Chief Executive Officer for Census- Surveys, Malaefono Taua says it is important to record these figures in order for the Government to make the appropriate policies and plans as most of these electrical appliances have a negative impact on the environment and also to find out what each household is capable of in terms of possessions.

Taua said that for employment, traditional skills for males and females between the ages of 15 years and over has been added. Under this category are tattooing skills for malofie and malu, carpentry and furniture making skills, carving and handicraft skills, weaving/elei-making/sewing skills, fishing skills and traditional massage/herbs skills.

For tattooing skills for malofie and malu, only males excel in this profession at a total of 520 males, for carpentry and furniture making skills males were 7,265 in total and 427 for females. Carving and handicraft skills, 4446 males and 658 females, men also dominated fishing skills with 11,587 males and 5,485 females. Women however were more skilled at weaving/elei-making/sewing skills with a total of 24,827 and males 3764. For traditional massage/herb skills females were 3375 and males 1074.

The number of private households with means of transport is another new census category with 40% of households owning motor vehicles while 17.2% owned bicycles and motorcycles.

Malaefono said that the number of vehicles could increase as the introduction of right hand drive vehicle law is still at an early stage and could mean more importation of right hand vehicles from overseas to replace old left hand drive vehicles.

Low population growth

As for population there is not much of an increase. There has only been an increase of 11,110 people from 2001 to 2011. The population of Samoa is now 187,820 compared to 176,710 in 2001. From 1981 to 1991, the population increase was only 4949; Malaefono says this is because most people had started to migrate to New Zealand when the quota was introduced.

For percentage distribution of five year age groups and sex for census years from 1961 to 2011, it shows that the population was high percentage in the number of children from 0-9 years between 10-15 per cent but has decreased over the years whereas there were not many adolescents and adults and now there are more people who reach old age of 75 years and older at 5 per cent compared to previous years. As for population density she said Samoa is still not as crowded compared to overseas countries.

Asked about some of the challenges they faced in conducting the census or surveys.

“Sometimes teachers were not available on some days, as they helped out to carry out the surveys also some of them lived far away from where the census was conducted. We were also not able to get the correct information concerning birthdates from some people, thankfully we were working together with the Birth Certificate office, but we were not able to get all birth dates,” she said.

She also said that about two per cent of the population was not recorded as most people were not at home when the enumerators came to conduct the surveys as they were at work. Her team would visit the same household twice if that occurred and they were still unable to reach them they would move on to the next household or area. She said some people would call back if they missed out and then they would come back.  Other challenges were people traveling overseas for business trips or for family fa’alavelave.

Malaefono said scanning the information in their new system was a huge help as it would read and put together the information which saved her staff a lot of time from having to type up the information gathered and recorded in the forms.

The survey was conducted from the 25th October to 7th November 2011 which was a period of two weeks. She said 1450 enumerators conducted the surveys. Some people were hired and also teachers as there were not enough members of the Samoa Bureau of Statistics staff to carry out the census.