Africa Needs High-quality Data to Achieve Transformation: Macroeconomic Experts

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Addis Ababa October 25/2022 (ENA)  Macroeconomic data experts said African countries need high-quality data to achieve structural transformation and inclusive growth, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

ECA said in a press release that the experts urged for concerted data coordination and statisticians to collect data to ensure African countries are generating and disseminating high-quality data to achieve structural transformation.  

In the margins of the 8th Statistical Commission for Africa taking place from 24-26 October, the experts held a side event meeting hosted by the ECA’s Macroeconomics and Governance Division (MGD) outlining the urgent needs faced by countries to ensure high-quality data supply, it was learned.

According to the press release, the focus of the side-event was underpinned by the growing and urgent need for timely accurate, complete, reliable and relevant data and statistics to inform policy, which remains a significant challenge across Africa.

During the event, Macroeconomic and Governance Division Economic Affairs Officer, Atkeyelsh Persson stressed the need for high-quality data to achieve structural transformation and inclusive growth.

This, she noted, is a key focus of  the Macroeconomic and Governance Division, which aims to serve member states through strengthened and effective development planning, macroeconomic policy analysis, and enhanced public sector financial management and economic governance.

The Macroeconomic and Governance Division faces challenges in the area of data quality and availability, timeliness, completeness, consistency, and accuracy, Persson stated.  

According to economic affairs officer, these challenges hinder its support to member states, such as in the area of macroeconomic modeling, development planning, and measuring illicit financial flows (IFF). 

For instance, Persson pointed out, incomplete and inconsistent data results in biased estimation in macroeconomic modeling.

“Our aim is to continue to strive for data quality and support countries in order to resolve these challenges.”

Jairo Arrow, Official Statistics Expert, former Deputy Director-General of Statistics in South Africa and Vice President of International Association of Survey Statisticians spoke about modernizing data ecosystems and quality statistics. 

He drew from his rich experience in and compared the production of statistics to building a house, in which sampling frames correspond to foundations, surveys and censuses to pillars, national accounts to roof, and policy outcomes to flagpoles for assessment of poverty and inequality, economic growth, unemployment. 

“Regular maintenance and constant consultation with users on data adequacies and gaps are required,” he said. He noted that poor quality statistics could lead to disastrous consequences.

Member states shared experiences and lessons learnt, with Rwanda informing the meeting on the country’s advancements in computerization for data collection and big data techniques. 

Moreover, the importance of sound methodologies was stressed during the discussion as is the need to improve the national statistics ecosystem and create favorable conditions for improving methodologies in local contexts. 

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