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Leading African institutions disagree over Africa Data Consensus

DataTension is brewing between two leading African institutions over the concept of the Africa Data Consensus. The African Union Commission (AUC) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have disagreements over making the Africa Data Consensus part of the Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA).

The main purpose of the SHaSA according to these institutions is to enable the African Statistical Systems to generate timely, reliable, and harmonized statistical information, covering all aspects of political, economic, social, and cultural integration for Africa.

The disagreement arose during a meeting of Directors General of National Statistical Offices on Data Revolution in January 2016 in Addis Ababa to prepare documentation for the Summit of African Heads of State in the same month.

While there is overwhelming agreement that Africa needs a data revolution to spur the efficient use of all forms of data and statistical processes in every sense of the word to facilitate effective economic planning to engender growth on the continent, the two organizations do not seem to agree on whether the Africa Data Consensus should be part of SHaSA.

The Africa Data Consensus was the result of a High Level Conference on Data Revolution in Africa that was held at the sidelines of the Conference of Ministers of Finance in Addis Ababa in March 2015.

Both the ECA and AUC agree that SHaSA is the overarching statistical strategy for Africa, but while the ECA posits that the Africa Data Consensus should be integrated into SHaSA, the AUC thinks it shouldn’t be mentioned at all.

These two institutions have been working together for years and disagreements like this are not uncommon, but this disagreement at this time seems to raise questions about the clarity of the movement started by these same institutions to stir an African data revolution only a year ago.

This disagreement, if not quickly resolved, would likely hamper the efforts made to date to lead the intellectual discourse on shaping statistics in Africa for development.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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