Data gaps hampering Africa’s development agenda – Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Mr Joseph Asunka addressing the press conference

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) 2023 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) report has revealed that data gaps is hampering Africa’s development agenda.

The report, dubbed “The Power of Data for Governance: Closing data gaps to accelerate Africa’s transformation,” was launched on Monday in Accra at an event which was co-hosted by the MIF and Afrobarometer.

It said sound data was at the heart of Africa’s governance and development agendas, and the report underscores its role in driving progress, assessing government performance, setting policy priorities, and ensuring trust in governments.

Drawing from the 2022 IIAG dataset, the report reveals a strong positive correlation between access to high-quality statistics and effective governance across African countries from 2012 to 2021.

“However, Africa remains the continent most impacted by data gaps globally, with the region possessing the lowest availability of civil registration and vital statistics,” it said.

“When it comes to the basic building blocks of statistics that are key to defining public policies, such as population censuses and birth and death registration, many African countries are missing crucial data.”

The report said even in areas where strides had been made, critical governance data gaps persist on issues including health structures, the informal economy, the environment, violence against women, child labour, and illicit financial flows.

It noted that the underfunding of data remains a serious challenge globally, with statistics receiving just 0.34 per cent of total Official Development Assistance (ODA).

In Africa, ODA received for data and statistics has nearly halved between 2018 and 2021.

In addition to investing in data, the report outlines critical strategies to enhance data impact and accelerate development progress on the continent.

These include the importance of ensuring the independence of National Statistical Offices, harnessing alternative data sources like citizen-generated data and private company data, and leveraging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.

Mr Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, emphasised the importance of data for Africa in achieving key development and policy agendas. “Without data, we are driving blind – policies are misdirected and progress on the road to development is stunted,” he stated.

“We must act urgently to close the data gap in Africa if we genuinely want to leave no one behind. Data is key to achieving both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’ Sustainable Development Goals. I have long been thinking that what UN Agenda 2030 should have begun with is an SDG 0 – Sound Data for Governance.”

Mr Joseph Asunka, Chief Executive Officer of Afrobarometer, lauded MIF for its 2023 report, which highlights the importance of data to Africa’s development agenda.

He reiterated that data enables people to make informed decisions.

The launch followed a two-day meeting of the IIAG Expert Panel in Accra.

The renewed advisory body meets once a year in a different African country for in-person consultations on the IIAG.

From its inception, MIF has been a strong supporter of Afrobarometer, which is now the leading African research institution conducting public attitude surveys on the continent.

Afrobarometer is the only source of the Citizens’ Voices dataset, which complements the IIAG dataset.

Source: GNA

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