Setting the scene for a sustainable development agenda powered by Data Revolution in Africa

In August of 2014, the United Nations Secretary-General established an Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG) on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. The group was tasked to make concrete recommendations on bringing about a data revolution in sustainable development. The IEAG requested input from the global data community towards this objective and opened the draft report for comments prior to being published. A World That Counts was issued on 6 November 2014 and includes an impressive list of recommendations for strengthening national statistical systems, closing data gaps and harvesting new technological possibilities in data production and use.

The IEAG retained the following key action areas:
1. Accessible data: Open data, accountability and data literacy;
2. Sustainable Development Goals: measuring progress on new indicators and for all Groups;
3. Data landscapes: addressing systemic change;
4. Data innovation: big data and new technologies

The IEAG made recommendations in four specific areas:
1. Principles and standards
2. Technology, innovation and analysis
3. Capacity and resources
4. Leadership and governance

In addition to the IEAG report, the Partnership for the Development of Statistics in the 21st Century (PARIS21) will launch its Informing a Data Revolution (IDR) Roadmap in spring 2015 that aims to build on what is already in place, especially the IAEG Report. The road map aims to set out a broad program of actions to help developing countries meet the challenges of the post-2015 development agenda and the data needs related to the SDGs. It is based on the information collected and analyzed as part of the IDR project and is designed to help countries overcome the problems they face in improving the availability and use of data for their development. While the road map has been driven by the post-2015 development process and the discussions around the SDGs, the emphasis is on building the capacity and putting the infrastructure and systems in place to meet as many of the data challenges in the next 15 years as possible. Its aim is to identify what will need to be done and how they can be accomplished, who will need to be involved and what it might cost. This roadmap can assist African countries in adopting concrete actions and principles tailored to the specific needs of all 55 countries to ensure that no country is left behind.

The Assembly of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union, meeting in July 2009 in Sirte, Libya, mandated the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the members of the African Statistical Systems to develop a Strategy for the Harmonisation of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA). SHaSA recommended a 14-point strategic objectives clustered around the following strategic themes:
Concept Note for a High-Level Conference

1. To produce quality statistics for Africa;
2. To coordinate the production of quality statistics for Africa;
3. To build sustainable institutional capacity in the African statistical system