Africa’s top statisticians met in Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire to discuss the status and challenges of producing economic statistics in Africa and to take stock of the various efforts underway in modernizing official statistics. Organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the theme of the meeting was: Strengthening economic statistics to support Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Addressing the opening, Oliver Chinganya, Director at the ECA’s African Centre for Statistics, said the SDGs and Agenda 2063 have imposed greater needs and demand for broader and more detailed economic statistics. The challenge, he said, “requires additional efforts to scale-up the collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of economic statistics.”
Mr Chinganya said that economic statistics are critical to capturing the production, expenditure and consumption among various economic actors and stressed that in Africa, “quality, timely, and comparable economic statistics are critical for the continents’ agenda on regional integration, structural economic transformation, and sustainable development.”
Statisticians and economists continue to face numerous challenges, such as the growing demand for statistics on new or previously unaccounted economic activities; the need to balance data collection strategies and outputs against limited resources; and the increasing demand for quality, timely, and harmonized statistics by regional and international development initiatives, including the SDGs and Agenda 2063.
He called for strengthening the technical and institutional capacity of National Statistics Offices to collect, compile, analyze and disseminate national and sub-national economic statistics data. He also stressed the need to integrate national monitoring and evaluation systems into statistical capacity building “from the outset so as to ensure a reliable supply of core statistics with which to monitor and evaluate the attainment of the SDGs and Agenda 2063.”
The five-day gathering took place in the context of a joint, back-to-back assembly of the 10th Committee of Director Generals of National Statistical Offices and the Statistical Commission for Africa (STATCOM), which was preceded by the 5th Session of Statistical Commission for Africa.
Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Note to editors:
· In Africa, despite the improvements made in the last decade, economic statistics are still at the early stages of development. 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.
· Africa is collectively making significant efforts to improve the quality of economic statistics. During the last decade, several programs and initiatives have contributed to the development of economic statistics on the continent. In many instances the development of these programs and initiatives has directly led to the improvement of macroeconomic measurements on the continent, including the calculation of GDP, the measurement of the informal sector, and the quantitative assessment of regional integration.
· According to a survey conducted by ECA in 2016, an increasing number of African countries are rebasing their GDP in order to better capture the size, structure and trends of their economy. Only 5 countries reported to having a base year of 2000 or earlier; while 13 countries have a base year of 2001-2005; an additional 24 countries have a base year of 2006-2010; and 4 countries have a base year of 2011-2015. The rebasing of GDP ensures that the price structure is more representative of the economy and a wider basket of products and activities are considered when national accounts are compiled. A lot more is needed to support countries to rebase their GDP.