Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma on Tuesday announced the cancellation of his planned trip to South Africa for the China-Africa Summit so that he could launch this week`s population census.

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The country’s long awaited national population and housing census will finally get underway on December 5 and it will run through to the 18 December, 2015.

President Koroma said he wanted to be at home to be counted, and he also ordered that all public officials outside the country return in time to be counted.

“Because of that cancellation, I have also given instructions to the head of the civil service to advise all public officials to ensure that they are here. They need to be counted,” he said.

The China-Africa Summit is scheduled for Thursday in Cape Town, a day before the census night in Sierra Leone and President Koroma will be presiding over the official opening.

This is the second census to be conducted in Sierra Leone since after the war in 2002.

Officials also said it is the most comprehensive, notably in terms of the social issues intended for coverage by the questionnaire.

“A notable addition to it is the inclusion of details on the impact of the Ebola epidemic on the people,” said Dr Sullay Kamara, chairman of the Statistics Sierra Leone Council, the body tasked with conducting the process.