Africa needs to start changing the way it produces and packages data and statistics to ensure its industrialization and diversification processes are backed by reliable and accurate data, Economic Commission for Africa’s Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist, Abdalla Hamdok, said Monday.
In welcoming remarks to delegates attending the Sixth Meeting of the Statistical Commission for Africa (StatCom-Africa-VI), Mr. Hamdok reiterated the ECA’s commitment to continue supporting statistical development across Africa to ensure the successful implementation of the sustainable development agenda.
“We will continue to work closely with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, development partners and the countries to ensure successful implementation of the statistical work ahead of us,” said Mr. Hamdok.
He emphasized the need for enhancing the capacity of national statistical systems in Africa to further align with the ever-growing demand for statistics in support of the national, regional and global development agendas.
“The role that national statistical agencies and their respective sectoral partners play in supporting the realization of the global sustainable development goals and the AU Agenda 2063 is paramount,” the ECA Deputy Chief said.
“The economic dynamism we are experiencing in the continent has been coupled with new development challenges such as migration, climate change, as well as shifts in global political spheres affecting trade and economic relations across the globe. Amidst this, it is imperative for countries to take stock of their respective comparative advantages and make sound decisions in navigating the playing field. The key prerequisite of all of this are relevant, timely and utmost quality data and statistics.”
He said the role of National Statistical Systems in supporting policies for Africa’s economic diversification and industrialization is and will continue to be paramount.
Well-functioning statistical systems are expected to produce integrated economic statistics including information on National Accounts to effectively inform the diversification and industrialization in Africa well as the Africa Continental Free Trade agenda, the ECA Chief Economist said.
“This can only be achieved if countries engage in creative and innovative ways to overcome some of the key challenges of the national statistical offices such as insufficient financing, inadequate staff, poor IT infrastructure and inadequate legislation framework among others,” said Mr. Hamdok, adding the road to dignity by 2030 was commanding a people-centered development and policies which must be based on up-to-date economic, social and environmental data.
He said member States can count on the continuing technical support of the ECA in their efforts to implement the 2020 round of census and address data issues emanating from the adoption of agenda 2063 and the SDGs.
“Member states are encouraged to make use of technology to improve data collection, processing and analysis. South-south cooperation is also encouraged to share experiences and technology so as to mitigate the cost of the use of technology,” he said, adding the ECA was calling for further support of and collaboration between all stakeholders to ensure the success of the 2020 round in the continent.
The ECA and its international and regional partners have engaged countries across the continent, undertaking capacity building programmes and technical assistance missions to improve National Statistical Systems. As a result, more countries than ever before are now equipped to produce fundamental national accounts that conform to internationally recognized standards and classifications.
He emphasized mainstreaming geospatial information technologies to provide the basic framework for supporting statistical production and the dissemination of statistical data.
With ECA support, many Member States have started working towards the integration of statistical and geospatial information.
“They recognize and appreciate the value in linking people, business and the economy to a geographic location and a place to provide a fuller understanding of social, economic and environmental issues than is possible through a socio-economic information lens on its own,” said Mr. Hamdok.
ECA, he said, is developing a global strategic framework for the integration of statistical and geospatial information in the continent. The strategy outlines some of the policy principles on how to mainstream geospatial technology into the work of statistical offices all the way through training, data and processes. It’s expected that the integration of statistical and geospatial information will benefit member States in the provision of services which is of the greatest value to users, with a particular focus on Agenda 2030 on SDGs, Africa Agenda 2063, the 2020 Round of Census and national regional priorities.
The 6th Statistical Commission for Africa is taking place with other meetings namely;
· The African Symposium on Statistical Development (ASSD) under the theme Strengthening population censuses and national accounts to support the realization of Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063.
· The Eighth Forum on African Statistical Development (FASDEV) under the theme: Innovative financial solutions to improve data quality and credibility to support Africa development agenda, and;
· The Fourth Regional Committee of the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management for Africa (UNGGIM: Africa) under the theme: Linking people to place: Statistical Geospatial Integration in support of the 2020 Round of Population and Housing Censuses and the Sustainable Development Agenda.