The Covid19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of African national statistical systems , pointing to the need to transform and modernize national statistical systems on the continent. This is according to an ECA progress report on the transformation and modernization of national statistical systems in Africa.
High-quality statistics, the report says are required for evidence-based decision-making, and for monitoring and evaluating progress made towards the realization of international, regional and national development goals, plans and priorities, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Agenda 2063
The report was presented by Oliver Chinganya, ECA’s Director, African Centre for Statistics during the experts committee meeting at the ongoing 54th Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (CoM2022) in Dakar, Senegal
“Some African countries are stuck in a vicious cycle of low interest in and demand for quality statistics for evidence-based decision-making,” said Mr Chinganya.
“The main focus of transformation and modernization is to enhance the capacity of national statistical systems to efficiently and effectively respond to increasing requests for statistical information and adapt their operations to address emerging data demands that cannot be anticipated.”
The report aims to strategically guide and coordinate the work of national statistical systems in Africa. It indicates that low interest and demand may result in weak statistical institutions that have poor governance structures; inadequate staffing levels, infrastructure and tools; low human capacity of both data producers and users; and a lack of coordination and collaboration mechanisms within data systems.
These challenges, in turn, result in low-quality data, which reinforce the initial position of lack of interest and demand, in particular at the policy level.
“There is, therefore, a high and ever-increasing demand for national statistical systems across the world to produce and disseminate high-quality statistics,” said Mr Chinganya.
He said that high-quality data are needed to monitor progress towards the achievement of development goals, plans and priorities to ensure that no one is left behind and to respond to user needs. The production and use of statistics, he added, are essential for sound decisions, policies and plans that improve the well-being of the population.
The ECA report shows that a roadmap on the transformation and modernization of official statistics in Africa is being finalized. It is structured around the pillars of transformation and modernization, and identifies the core elements of the transformation and modernization of official statistics. It highlights the short-term and medium – term activities that a country could undertake to create a modern national statistical system.
Mr Chinganya said ECA’s 2022 work programme on data and statistics is mainly focused on supporting countries in the implementation of a programme to transform and modernize their national statistical systems. The programme is supported by a grant from Eurostat, with the aim of supporting the modernization of administrative data and registers in African countries to enhance their use for statistical purposes. It will also strengthen national capacities in the production, dissemination and use of spatial data and geospatial technologies, and will contribute to reducing the data gap to monitor and evaluate progress towards achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
While acknowledging the work of the African group on transformation and modernization of official statistics and its technical teams, Mr Chinganya noted that the initiative of the Group is not an isolated one but rather a complementary effort tailor-made for Africa, which needs strong support from Governments.