Ethiopian president urges “data revolution” to support development

(Xinhua) – The success of the sustainable development agenda calls for a
“data revolution” to support Africa’s developmental endeavors at all
levels, Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome has said.

The president made the
remarks at the opening of the 6th meeting of the Statistical Commission for
Africa (StatCom-Africa-VI), in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, on Monday. 

Quality statistical
information is crucial, not only to provide the evidential basis for design and
implementation of policies at national, regional, continental and international
levels, but also to monitor and evaluate their impacts on economic growth and
social improvements, Teshome said. 

“The data
revolution promotes embracing technology and innovation at all levels of
statistical processes such as collection, processing, analysis and
dissemination,” he said.

National statistical
systems are the main sources of such data, Mulatu said, adding that as a result
they face an urgent need to reposition, adapt and strengthen their statistical
production processes to meet widening, increasing and evolving needs of data

The four-day meeting,
which will last through Thursday, is being held under the theme,
“Enhancing the capacity of the National Statistical Systems to support
policies for Africa’s economic diversification and industrialization.” 

Since most SDGs
require geospatial data, the president said, it is imperative for the continent
to focus on “the use of technology in this new era of the data revolution
to incorporate a geospatial data revolution in Africa.” 

He said Ethiopia is
planning to conduct its 4th population and housing census this year, the
country’s first ever fully digital census.

South Africa’s
Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke emphasized the need for Africa to work
together in building statistical capacity to support the continent’s
developmental aspirations. 

He said technology and
lack of funding could hamper such aspirations but added that such disruptors
were not permanent though they may have long lasting effects. 

“It’s only when
we work together that victory would be certain,” said Maluleke, who also
underlined the need to harmonize statistics on the continent. 

United Nations
Statistics Division Director Stefan Schweinfest said the African continent
needs data champions to advocate the importance of statistics for informed

“Having reliable,
accurate and accessible data will help us meet the 2030 Agenda for sustainable
development,” he said, noting that political leadership is crucial in the
whole process.

African Development
Bank (AfDB) Statistics Director Charles Leyeka Lufumpa said working together as
the African statistical community, the countries should be able to meet the
ever-increasing demand for data needed to track progress on the sustainable
development goals, and Africa’s 50-year development plan, dubbed Agenda 2063.

Urging greater focus
on economic statistics, the director said lack of political will by some
countries to allocate adequate resources toward regular censuses and surveys
risks diminishing the reliability of national accounts data over time. 


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