Africa Statistics Day: Creating The Future Through Data By Anshemeza Joellah
Africa Statistics Day, observed annually on November 18th, is a significant occasion that highlights the importance of reliable and accurate data in driving development across the continent.
The day is an initiative aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of the role of statistics in decision-making processes by providing an opportunity for technocrats and the general public to interface and acknowledge the power of data in addressing policy issues, governance, socio-economic challenges, and fostering growth while leveraging enhanced statistical systems and capacities to meet the evolving demands of a rapidly changing world.
The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) Act, 1998, provides for the development and maintenance of a National Statistical System (NSS) to ensure the collection, analysis, and publication of integrated, relevant, reliable, and timely statistical information. On June 11, the Bureau was established as a coordinating, monitoring, and supervisory body for the National Statistical System.
The Uganda Bureau of Statistics has been hosting a series of activities in regard to African Statistics Week 2023 (November 13–17, 2023) in preparation for the commemoration of Africa Statistics Day, with the aim of maintaining steadfast statistical production and development and offering an opportunity to raise statistical awareness for the purposes of increasing the use of data and strengthening statistical production and profession in the country.
These activities included media breakfast training and the launch of Africa Statistics Week, a professional development workshop, the Geographic Information System, the GCOF/PRAU USS-Students symposium and census football match, the dissemination of national standard indicators framework levels 1 and 2, and blood donation.
As we celebrate Africa Statistics Day 2023 under the theme “Modernising National Statistical Systems to Support Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa,” it is essential to reflect on the progress made, the challenges faced, and the potential for leveraging data to shape a better future for the diverse nations of Africa.
Data for Sustainable Development:
Statistics play a critical role in tracking indicators related to poverty reduction, health, education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. If accurate data is captured, African nations can tailor policies and interventions and measure progress in a bid to address specific challenges and contribute to the global agenda for sustainable development (SDGs).
Capacity Building in Statistics:
As a platform for advocacy for increased investment in statistical training and education, African nations should build a robust statistical infrastructure to generate high-quality data. It is critical that countries recognise the need to strengthen the capacity of statisticians and data professionals to ensure the continuous production of reliable information that can inform evidence-based decision-making at local, national, and continental levels.
Innovations in Data Collection and
If Africa invests and adopts innovative modern technologies and methodologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics in the process of data collection and analysis, this will enhance the efficiency and accuracy of statistical processes, providing more timely and relevant insights to inform decisions and the management of public affairs.
Promoting Data Transparency and
The act of ensuring that information is accessible to the public, researchers, and policymakers contributes to transparent data-sharing processes and builds trust with a more informed and engaged society. Therefore, open data practices like transparency in data collection and dissemination are crucial for building trust among stakeholders.
Conclusion: Africa Statistics Day is a momentous occasion that highlights the transformative power of data in shaping the future of the African continent. By addressing our challenges (i.e., limited financial resources, insufficient data infrastructure, and the need for improved coordination among African countries), we have the potential to unlock the power of statistics, harness its benefits for sustainable development, and improve the quality of life for the populace.
One of the key opportunities lies in the establishment of partnerships between governments, international organisations, and the private sector. These collaborations can not only provide the necessary financial resources but also bring in expertise and technology to strengthen data infrastructure and capacity-building efforts. Furthermore, improved coordination among African countries can lead to the sharing of best practices, the harmonisation of data collection methods, and the development of standardised indicators, enabling more accurate and comparable statistics across the continent.
Addressing these systemic issues requires a comprehensive approach that also involves promoting good governance, accountability, and sustainable development practices to create an enabling environment where data-driven policies and decision-making can truly make a difference in Africa.
The writer is a Communications Officer at the Government Citizen Interaction Centre, State House Uganda