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Strengthening statistical capacity-building in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) in the region of the Economic Community of West African States

Background:

ECOWAS is a regional group of fifteen countries, founded in 1975. Its mission is to promote cooperation and economic integration in all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial matters, social and cultural issues among the Member States.

As a follow up to decisions taken by the General Assembly on the assessment of and reporting on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration”[1] A/RES/55/162, A/RES/56/95, the United Nations Secretariat and other international agencies have identified indicators for the monitoring of the implementation of the development goals and targets set out in the Declaration. The availability and reliability of data to compile these indicators are essential to monitor progress towards the achievement of the declaration’s goals and targets at the national and international levels.

Most countries still need national and international support to strengthen statistical capacity building and to make progress in the development of relevant statistics and indicators, particularly for the MDGs. This project will complement and build upon previous activities, in particular the recent project on strengthening statistical capacity in the SADC countries. This project also supports the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which calls for a new relationship between Africa and the international community to assist in the development of African states.

Objective:

Strengthen national statistical systems in the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region in order for them to produce and use certain statistical data in order to monitor and respond to the millennium indicator list for the MDGs. In particular through the use of improved communication and information technology the project will promote cooperation among the countries of the region in the field of statistics

Expected accomplishments:

  • Strengthened capacity of the countries routinely to produce and use statistical data such as macroeconomic indicators and social statistics contained in the millennium indicator list
  • Improved organization of the statistical systems and strengthened capacity of the countries in the region to develop and disseminate data for national and international progress reports on the millennium development goals
  • Development of common methodologies and classifications for the collection of data and common statistical priorities in areas such as economic and social statistics
  • Strengthened coordination and communication among countries
  • Upgraded information and communications technologies to promote networking among statistical offices in the region
  • Strengthened capacity of the Statistics Division of ECOWAS in promoting regional statistical coordination

Implementation status:

The fourth of the Steering Committee UNSD-ECOWAS Statistics Project was held on 28 August 2006 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Representatives of all ECOWAS Member States and those of the UNSD, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and ECOWAS Secretariat attended the meeting. The Steering Committee recognised the weaknesses of the national statistical systems and the three areas of poverty, energy and environment statistics, and therefore welcomed the preparation of the ECOWAS Poverty Profile publication, and the two frameworks on energy and on environment statistics. It noted the important impact that the project made at both national and regional levels, and recommended that the cooperation between the ECOWAS Secretariat and the UNECA and UNSD should continue in one form or another, after the end of the project, to sustain and improve upon the areas initiated under the project and build capacities in other areas, including data dissemination.

The project, through its Steering Committee, had laid a plan for a long-term ICT connectivity programme to allow for a high speed internet access, Web browsing, sharing electronic documents, etc. In the short term, the programme was expected to enhance linkages between national statistical offices of ECOWAS countries and to improve the dissemination of statistical information to a large range of users of statistics. The project’s ICT component was used to assist 5 of the ECOWAS countries (Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Togo) selected by the Steering Committee, to receive the minimum required equipment for this purpose. This was implemented during the reporting period. As part of its contribution towards the programme, ECOWAS Secretariat covered the cost of installation. A workshop on strategic planning of statistical activities was held from 29 August to 1 September 2006 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was organized by the Statistics Division of DESA in collaboration with the UNECA.

The participants expressed their satisfaction with the contents and presentations of the workshop. They appreciated the initiative taken by UNSD by providing the opportunity to share the consultant’s experiences in two successful NSO offices from outside of the African region. They also expressed their satisfaction from the exchange of ideas on how the day to day statistical activities are conducted in their respective countries. A report “An Assessment of the Situation of Environment Statistics in the ECOWAS Countries” was posted on the UNSD and ECOWAS web site by the end of March 2006. The report is based on country papers presented at the Workshop on Environment Statistics held from 28 February to 4 March 2005 in Dakar, Senegal, responses to the UNSD/UNEP Questionnaire on Environment Statistics, information from relevant websites, as well as responses to draft country profiles sent by the consultant to the countries.