African Countries Urged to Transform COVID-19 Challenged Statistical Systems

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Addis Ababa October 10/2020 President Sahle-Work Zewde urged African countries today to modernize their statistical systems challenged by COVID-19 to help design the right plans and measure development based on adequate and accurate data.

Officially opening the 7th Meeting of the Statistical Commission for Africa, she said the pandemic has created different challenges in Africa.

The president, however, noted that it has also provided opportunity to review the systems to be prepared and provide effective response to enhance resilience to different shocks.

The statistical and data management in national statistical systems have not been spared and producers of official statistics need to transform statistical system and modernize themselves to respond to all these data demands, she pointed out.

“The urgency of transforming statistical systems has been emphasized by the impact of COVID-19 on statistical systems,” Sahle-Work underscored, adding that “transformation and modernization of national statistical systems in Africa is now required than ever before as part of a robust post recovery system from COVID-19 pandemic.”

Access to technology by national statistical systems must be promoted in all African countries, she noted, adding that Ethiopia is committed for evidence-based decision-making and the country supports the Central Statistical Agency which designed a 10-year prospective plan that coincides with the United Nations Decade of Action for Sustainable Development.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe  said on her part the great ambition two years ago to see many African countries completing their population and housing census has been challenged by the pandemic; and it is a huge setback.

According to her, there is a lot that can be done using technology as statistical data help to ensure the African Agendas 2063 and 2030.

Many sectors have been affected by the statistics that has not been collected in Africa and what is happening in these sectors, including gender and diseases, remained unknown due to lack of adequate data, she pointed out.

Songwe shared her belief that this meeting with stakeholders would help come up with recommendations on the statistical system to measure based on accurate data for the right policies.

“If we can’t measure, we cannot manage, plan and design policy. So, we know that we need to be able to measure to design adequate policies, especially in a time when resources are scarce,” the executive secretary said.

She added implementing the right policy based on the right data is even more important for the countries.

Statistical Commission for Africa Chair, Albina Andrew Chuwa stated that African leaders need to give attention to conducting population and housing census on time.

“If we don’t know the Africans we have, we can’t meet the blue economy that we are talking about and the green economy that we want to foster in Africa, ” the chair added.

The three-day meeting is held under the theme: “Developing regional solutions to enhance the resilience of African national statistical systems to meet the need for data during the Decade of Action in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.”