By Omer Redi
Grand-Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire - November 30,2016 (IMC):- Quality economic statistics is key for the implementation of Agenda 2063, AU’s 50 year blueprint for Africa, and the global Agenda 2030 (SDGs), the opening of an annual meeting of chief statisticians from around Africa heard Wednesday.
Speakers from the leading Pan-African institutions - AU and ECA - have emphasised the need for quality and timely statistical data in general and economic statistics in particular in this regard.
These officials also stated in their opening addresses at the Second Joint Session of the Committee of Directors General of National Statistics Offices and the Statistical Commission for Africa (Statcom-Africa), underway in the oceanside town of Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire that statistics is critical for economic integration.
Rene Kouassi N’guettia (PhD), Director for Economic Affairs at the African Union Commission, stated the main objective of the meeting is to examine the state of production of economic statistics in Africa and the difficulties involved. It is also expected to analyse continental actions taken to meet the demand for official statistics on Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030.
Oliver Chinganya, Director of the African Centre for Statistics at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said that reliable and timely data is needed for various economic developments to materialise.
“In Africa, quality, timely, and comparable economic statistics are critical for the continents’ agenda on regional integration, structural economic transformation, and sustainable development,” he told the Directors General of African statistics institutions. “In this regard, economic statistics play a fundamental role in evaluating and informing the strategic economic choices facing our Member States in support of formulating macroeconomic policy; monitoring and analyzing macroeconomic trends; assessing the sustainability and inclusiveness of economic growth; as well as engaging in evidence-based decision making”.
The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aspires to transform the world, and forms the new global development framework anchored around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Similarly, the AU’s Agenda 2063 sets forth Africa’s development priorities, with a Pan-African vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”.
Both development agenda’s encompass three overlapping dimensions - equitable economic growth, social development, and environmental sustainability. All of these are crucially linked to economic statistics, according to Chinganya.
Agenda 2063, which covers a 50-year time horizon, is accompanied by a 10-year Implementation Plan that includes 12 flagship programmes.
According to the Director for Economic Affairs at the African Union Commission, the implementation of Agenda 2063 will effectively position Africa on the path of growth with strong, inclusive and sustainable development.
In this regard, the AU Commission, in cooperation with partner institutions, has carried out works to align the two agendas to facilitate their implementation and follow-up, the Director stated. “Thus common indicators have been identified, validated and disseminated to all actors responsible for the implementation of these two agendas”.
Despite improvements made in the last decade in Africa, economic statistics are still at the early stages of development, according to the speakers. The quality, availability, timeliness and harmonization of these statistics vary, depending on the national statistical systems of countries, which is generally fragile and vulnerable. Overall, the problems with the production of economic statistics in Africa stems from the weak statistical capacity and infrastructure of countries.
The annual meeting of chief statisticians and experts from around Africa jointly organised by the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) under the theme “Strengthening economic statistics to support Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” is expected to address these issues.
The joint session, which was officially opened by a senior government official of the host country on November 30, will conclude on December 2 in Bassam, a town in south-eastern Cote d’Ivoire lying by Atlantic Ocean over 40 kilometres east of the capital, Abidjan.
The experts and heads of statistics institutions will spend their few days in Bassam deliberating on hurdles they face and have to overcome to produce quality, reliable and timely data. They will conclude at the end of the week with recommendations on how to address Africa’s statistics challenges.
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