African countries asked to fund, produce own statistics

The meeting in session
The meeting in session

African countries have been challenged to critically consider producing their own statistics within the context of the data revolution, and they must also fund their own statistical activities.

Speaking at the opening of the Meeting of Directors General of National Statistical Offices on Data Revolution January 21, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dr. Rene Kuoassi, Director of Economic Affairs of the African Union Commission (AUC) said what the data revolution means for the AU is how African countries organize themselves to ensure that Africans can produce their own statistics.

“What we mean by data revolution is we should be able to produce our own statistics and data in real time. We must produce data in the interest of our populations,” he said.

He argued further that how African countries organized themselves to produce reliable data for development is important.

Dr. Kuoassi added that African countries couldn’t talk of data revolution by depending on external sources for funding. “We must fund our own activities,” he said.

He noted that African countries also need human capital in the field of statistics to make meaningful contributions in the field. “We can’t talk of data revolution without human capital. We don’t even have 1000 statisticians ready to work,” he said.

He therefore called on the participants to take advantage of the meeting to look for ways to address these needs.

Mr. Oliver Chinganya of the Capacity Building Unit of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in his presentation asked how Africa could get involved in the data revolution, asking if the continent has the right framework.

He therefore called on African countries to have a common understanding of how to operationalize data revolution within the framework of its various statistical institutions.

“We need to come out with something that defines Africa within the concept of data revolution,” he said.

Dr. Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, (ECA) emphasised the need for African countries to revolutionize how they conduct data.

Dr. Hamdok called for the need to consolidate Africa’s position in the wider global effort in the data revolution.

“In trying to define the data revolution, especially in the context of Africa, a relating high level conference was held in March 2015. The conference produced a set of principles to be considered in implementing the data revolution dubbed the Africa Data Consensus. Although the Africa Data Consensus is widely considered a technically sound document, it had however not been developed as part of an intergovernmental process deliberation, ” he said.

He therefore urged the meeting to develop the Consensus and make it part of an intergovernmental process of deliberation.

He called for the implementation of the Africa data revolution to take place at country level, urging that, “it is important for national statistical offices to understand and take responsibility for the data revolution,” he said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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