African Statisticians Reflect on Data Needs for SDGs, Agenda 2063
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Heads of 51 African national statistical offices and other stakeholders discussed the production, dissemination and use of statistics to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Africa’s Agenda 2063 and their national development plans.

A keynote address focused on the role of statisticians in taking ownership of their data and using it to change their communities, advance democracy and help African governments promote evidence-based policymaking.

At a symposium within StatCom-Africa VI, South Africa said his country lacks data to compile economic indicators for monitoring SDGs 8, 9 and 17.

4 October 2018: Participants at the Sixth Statistical Commission for Africa (StatCom-Africa VI) urged African governments to allocate increased resources to the production, dissemination and use of statistics to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and national development plans. An accompanying symposium offered countries the opportunity to share national progress on statistics for implementing the SDGs and Agenda 2063 and to discuss regional indicators for the two agendas.

Heads of national statistics offices (NSOs) from 51 African countries, representatives from international organizations, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, academia and research institutions and the private sector attended StatCom-Africa VI, which took place on the theme, ‘Enhancing the Capacity of National Statistical Systems to support policies for Africa’s economic diversification and industrialization.’ Participants identified the importance of national ownership, adequate resources and adequate resources for the region to support statistical transformation initiatives. They called for States to support the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 through the 2020 round of housing and population censuses.

In a keynote address, Vincent Hendricks, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, reflected that scientists do not typically like to sell themselves or their products, believing that their value is “self-evident,” but he said “it doesn’t work that way” in reality. He urged statisticians to realize that they “are the experts and not the politicians” and they should use their data “for the good of their communities.” He called for taking ownership of their data and using it to change their communities, advance democracy and help African governments promote evidence-based policymaking.

The meeting also reflected on key challenges faced by NSOs, including enhancing the capacity of statistical systems and aligning statistics with global, regional and national development agendas. Participants underscored the role of creative and innovative approaches to overcome challenges, and called for all stakeholders to collaborate to meet the growing demand for data to inform and implement development agendas. Participants also supported disaggregating indicators for monitoring basic human rights as a way to address inequalities, and investing in civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system.

The Director of the African Centre for Statistics (ACS), Oliver Chinganya, presented the ACS’ proposed strategic framework for the 2018-2019 biennium. The framework aims to “improve the production, dissemination and use of quality data and statistics” within the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. He said the Centre is working to support the design of national strategies on statistics, dissemination of information and best practices and production of harmonized statistics.

Participants took note of the statistical programme and urged UNECA to continue supporting States in building their statistical capacity in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ABCF).

Also within the StatCom-Africa VI meeting, the 13th session of the African Symposium on Statistical Development (ASSD) convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 3-4 October 2018. The symposium focused on the theme, ‘Application of economic statistics and national accounts in support of sustainable development.’ Countries shared progress and challenges in statistical development in line with the SDGs, with some reporting on how their countries have aligned national development plans with the SDGs.

Others highlighted a lack of data to support SDG indicators. A representative for South Africa said that his country lacks data to compile economic indicators to support monitoring of targets under SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and 17 (partnerships for the Goals). [UNECA press release on keynote address] [UNECA press release on outcomes] [UNECA press release on statistical plan] [UNECA press release on ASSD]

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