ECA launches program to modernize statistical production processes in Africa

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The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has launched a program to support Member States in modernizing administrative data for statistical purposes.

The program follows the road map for transformation and modernizing official statistics in Africa, which was approved by the ECA’s Conference of Ministers of Finance and Economic Planning last week.

Two workshops are currently underway to kickstart the process in Cameroon and Uganda. The workshops are co-organized by ECA’s African Centre for Statistics (ACS) and national statistical offices in collaboration with the offices of the UN Resident Coordinators.

In a statement delivered on behalf of the UN system in Cameroon on 28 March, Adama Coulibaly, Chief of the Sub Regional Initiatives Section at ECA’s Office for Central Africa, emphasized the need for national statistical systems to “transform and modernize to be more agile and resilient to crises” such as COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has shown that our statistical systems need to move away from current traditional ways of operating to be able to effectively support countries’ sustainable development and transformation agendas,” said Mr Coulibaly in his remarks at the opening of the three-day workshop in Yaounde.

Administrative data sources provide several advantages. They offer high-frequency disaggregated data, which is critical in the SDGs context of leaving no one behind; reduce production costs as data is collected routinely for administrative activities; and decrease respondent burden.

In line with the ECA initiative, Joseph Tedou, Director General of the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) in Cameroon, said the NIS is currently implementing two projects using administrative statistics, namely the Statistical Business Register (SBR) and the turnover index.

The SBR intends to pool registers from different administrations to create a reference directory of legal units registered with the administration, providing an overall view of economic activity and employment.

Meanwhile, the turnover index will use monthly declarations of companies subject to the normal real tax system for the payment of value-added tax (VAT) to calculate the index, aligning with the Special Data Dissemination Standard.

“The decision of the National Institute of Statistics of Cameroon to embark on this path is timely and will improve the availability and use of data,” said Mr Coulibaly.

Mr Tedou expressed gratitude to the ECA “for supporting these important projects” and for making the workshop possible, noting that the initiative aligns with the implementation of the National Development Strategy 2020-2030 and Cameroon’s goal of modernizing its statistical apparatus.

“The NIS hopes to continue its efforts towards modernizing the country’s statistical apparatus and complying with international standards,” said Mr Tedou

ECA officials handed over copies of the road map to the Director of INS Cameroon and the Deputy Executive Director of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics respectively, following a briefing on ECA’s support for their program on the modernization of administrative data.

SOURCE United Nations Economic Commission for Africa