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African Statistical Knowledge Network in support of progress towards the internationally agreed development goals

Background:

There is a broad consensus among African countries and development partners about the need for better statistics that lead to better policies for the achievement of the internationally agreed goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

As a result of lack of large-scale pan-African statistics-development initiatives in the past decade, there is a lack of continent-wide networks of professional statisticians. To ensure the success of any future initiatives in African statistical capacity-building, statistical knowledge networks among African national statistical offices need to be built. Only when such networks exist, and coordinated approaches to African statistical capacity-building are entrenched, will there be continent-wide progress in statistics.

This project builds upon lessons learned from five statistical development projects implemented or being implemented by the Statistics Division in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), ASEAN, ESCWA, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions. All of these projects have been successful in strengthening the regional network of statisticians, increasing intraregional statistical cooperation and raising the regional profile of statistics. This project will also build upon the experiences gained from a prototype project on the development of African practices in the adoption and implementation of international statistical standards, which is currently in the planning stages. The project will be executed by Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and ECA.

Objective:

To create African statistical knowledge networks to strengthen the capacity of African countries for the production, analysis and dissemination of benchmark statistics required for national development planning and for monitoring of the internationally agreed development goals.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased communication and knowledge-sharing among statisticians of African national statistical offices (NSOs) and sub-regional organizations.
  • Increased quality, timeliness, availability and regional relevance of statistics of internationally agreed development goals produced by African NSOs.

Implementation status:

The African Statistical Knowledge Network Website is available since December 2010 to disseminate international statistical standards, statistical reports, African practices, and experiences in the adoption and implementation of such standards.

After conducting a workshop on labour force statistics (LFS) in Mali participating countries are now aware of the importance of labour force surveys and many have had a recent experience in LFS. They are using new technologies such as satellite images and GIS to improve their surveys, some countries have established specific departments that deal with labour and labour statistics, and also use administrative sources of information. There is a need to improve the metadata on labour statistics and to harmonize concepts and definitions for international comparability.

A regional workshop on Data Management was held in Uganda to promote and strengthen the statistical data management practices in the Africa and to provide a forum for exchange of information on statistical data management and dissemination practices. Topics discussed include the use of scanning technologies for capturing census and survey data, the applications of GIS and GPS in census taking, software packages for statistical data analyses and the limited practices in Africa in archiving and documenting census and survey microdata.

To encourage the use of common statistical methodologies and to facilitate exchange of information on international standards candidate countries have been identified in the five thematic areas. Experience sharing from Togo to Burundi and Djibouti in the area of economic statistics has taken place, Nigeria has confirmed that it will send two officials to Liberia for data management, and South Africa will share with Kenya on labour statistics.