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Rwanda Rugali
2002 Census results


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Preliminary results of Rwanda's third census


The recently concluded Census is the third one of its kind in the history of our country. The first nation-wide Census was carried out in 1972, followed two decades later by another one in 1991. The latter faced problems arising from the war that afflicted the country during that period. Then came in August 2002 this third National Census.

Needless to emphasise here that this operation of a General Population and Housing Census requires long, careful preparation. The Government of National Unity had for some time made plans to establish, in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, the actual numbers of the population along with related socio-demographic characteristics. But this was not initially possible due mainly to the two following reasons :

  • The fact that many Rwandese were still living outside the country and the inherent need to repatriate and resettle them.

  • The then rampant insecurity problems that would have hampered the exercise.

During 1999, the Rwanda Government decided to organize the Census and adopted Presidential Decree no. 43/01 of 26th December 1999 aimed at carrying out the third General Population and Housing Census during 2001, exactly 10 years after the previous one. But due to delays in raising funds for this costly operation, it became necessary to postpone the Census to 2002. Accordingly, a new directive was issued by the Government under Presidential Decree No. 28/01 of 10th November 2000.


During May 2000, the National Census Commission held its first meeting, at which it was decided to set up quickly the technical body for carrying out the Census. In July 2000, the National Census Department was established with the mission of undertaking all technical actions required for a successful Census, including head counting of the entire population in all the households.

Under the supervision of the National Census Commission, the National Census Department undertook, before and just after the August 2002 Census, the following tasks:

  • Drawing the Census Map;

  • Preparing Census questionnaires for adoption by the Cabinet;

  • Preparing and carrying out the Pilot Census that took place in August 2001, exactly a year before the actual Census;

  • Sensitising the population to garner their full cooperation for the success of the operation;

  • Training the field staff;

  • Actual head counting of all people in their households from 16th to 30th August 2002;

  • Preparing and conducting the post-census survey which took place in September 2002; Compiling and computer processing of all Census data.


The figures given here show preliminary findings. They are to be confirmed and finalized after complete computer processing by late October 2003, if all goes according to plan. However, even in their present provisional state, these figures are reliable enough to be used by State organs and by all in need of such data, whether for professional work or for research purposes.

III 1. Numbers of Residents

Rwanda's inhabitants came to a total of 8,162,715, as at the night of 15th -16th August 2002, which was the actual Census night. Their gender breakdown is as follows :

  • Female population : 4,267,983, or 52.3%

  • Male population : 3,894,732, or 47.7%

We may recall here that total population was 4,831,527 during the 1978 Census and 7,157,551 during that of 1991.

Comparing current population numbers to those of the last Census in 1991, it becomes clear that over this lapse of 11 years, the population increase came to only 1,005,164 people, representing a 12% growth, which is very low for Rwanda and which, indeed, reflects the serious effects of the 1994 genocide and massacres.

III. 2. Population numbers by province
Ruhengeri : 894,179
Gisenyi : 867,225
Gitarama : 864,594
Kigali-Ngali : 792,542
Butare : 722,616
Byumba : 712,372
Kibungo : 707,548
Cyangugu : 609,504
Kigali City : 608,141
Gikongoro : 492,607
Kibuye : 467,745
Umutara : 423,642
Rwanda : 8,162,715

III 3. Town and Urban population

The country's urban and town population totals 1,362,312, which represents 16.7% of the entire population. Kigali City's share stands at 7.5% of the grand total, the female and male population being 45.3% and 54.7% respectively. This shows that the phenomenon of rural exodus affects the male population more.

III 4. Population over 16

For the population over the age of 16, the total comes to 4,189,495 people, the gender breakdown being as follows : 2,239,574 women and girls (53.5%); 1,949,921 men and boys (46.5%); This population will be in the voting age bracket of 18 years and above in 2003.

III. 5 Availability of figures by administrative units

The Census provides figures for administrative units at provincial, district and sector levels. The only exception is at cell level, for which reliable data will be made available in October 2003.

For districts and towns, the ten most populated are, in descending order, as follows :
Rusumo (Kibungo) : 149,643
Impala (Cyangugu) : 129,986
Gasiza (Giseny) : 122.681
Mutura (Gisenyi) : 122.325
Kacyiru (MVK) : 121,191
Bukamba (Ruhengeri) : 119,935
Kamonyi (Gitarama) : 116,255
Ntenyo (Gitarama) : 109,656
Ngenda (Kigali-Ngali) : 106,112
Rusenyi (Kibuye) : 105,826

The ten less populated districts and towns are :
Rwamagana town (Kibungo) : 47,203
Kibuye town (Kibuye) : 46,500
Ruhango town (Gitarama) : 43,780
Kibungo town (Kibungo) : 43,582
Gabiro District (Umutara) : 34,250
Bugaragara District (Umutara) : 33,078
Gikongoro town (Gikongoro): 32,476
Butamwa District (MVK) : 30,464
Kabare District (Umutara) : 29,228
Umutara town (Umutara) : 8,003


  • The data being published at present will be compiled into a more detailed report to be issued by January 2003.

  • Computer data entry has already started. It will continue during next year and should be finalized by October 2003, barring some unexpected hitches.

  • The final Census Report will come out by late 2003.

  • Data analysis will be carried out by national experts to be identified.

  • The publication of analysed data, dissemination of the same through conferences and seminars and preparation of monographs per region will be carried out during 2004 and the project will be closed by late that year (2004).


On behalf of the Government and on behalf of the National Census Commission, I really wish to inform you that we are satisfied with the way this exercise of capital importance for the country has been conducted.

I take this opportunity to thank the entire population of this country which got positively involved in this exercise, which shows the people's appreciation of the fact that this programme is really in their interest.

I wish to thank also all the political and administrative authorities who spared no efforts to ensure that this operation is crowned with success. I would like to single out the security organs that constantly took care of the security for the Census staff and their material.

My thanks go equally to the aid donors for their support in favor of this programme, through provision of funding, equipment or experts. Allow me to single out the European Union, UNFPA, the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Holland.

Lastly, I have to express my gratitude to all persons, physical or moral, who contributed in one way or the other to the success of this Census, including you, journalists, who participated in the appreciable campaign to sensitise our population.

Many thanks to you all !

Kigali, 17th December 2002


Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

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