To efficiently serve its member states in different areas of intervention, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has established, since its inception, a number of subsidiary bodies as part of its intergovernmental machinery. In the area of statistics and statistical development, the status of the subsidiary body has changed through time reflecting the profile of statistics as a thematic area within the UNECA. The first subsidiary body to deal with statistics was the Conference of African Statisticians established in 1959, a year after the establishment of the UNECA while the last but one was the Committee on Development Information (CODI) established in 1997 by the twenty-third meeting of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development (CoM). The CODI was set up to provide policy and technical guidance for the sub-programme “harnessing information for development” and comprised three Sub-committees namely the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Statistics and Geo-information.
Following the last UNECA repositioning exercise, the statistics division was re-established in August 2006 under the rubric African Centre for Statistics (ACS). It was therefore imperative to put in place a new subsidiary body specifically devoted to statistics and statistical development on the continent. This new subsidiary body is expected to provide a forum for discussions and decisions on all aspects related to statistical development, which are of interest to its members within the framework of the policies and procedures of the United Nations and subject to the general supervision of the CoM. The last CoM held in Addis Ababa from 2 to 3 April 2007 endorsed the creation of the new subsidiary body in charge of statistics: the Statistical Commission for Africa (STATCOM-Africa).
The ACS successfully organized the first meeting of STATCOM-Africa from 21 to 23 January 2008 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Scaling up Statistical Development in Africa”. Key agenda items of the inaugural meeting of STATCOM-Africa included the formal launching of the Statistical Commission and setting up of a strong bureau and various working groups according to priority needs in statistical development on the continent namely: (i) Development Indicators, (ii) Informal Sector, (iii) National Accounts, (iv) Data Management, (v) Statistical Training, and (vi) Gender Statistics.
The meeting called on African countries, among other things, to mainstream statistics into national planning and budgeting processes to ensure statistical activities are adequately funded and seen as a key element in the development process, rather than as an add-on. Development partners were also called upon to provide sustainable technical and financial assistance for the collection, processing, analysis and use of data, particularly data necessary for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Building on the success of the first meeting and ongoing capacity building efforts on the continent,inter alia, under the African Statistical Coordination Statistical Committee (ASCC), STATCOM-Africa II will take stock of progress made in various areas, address some of the challenges faced by stakeholders in supporting African countries produce and use quality information in support of their development efforts. Moreover, it will particularly address issues pertaining to the monitoring and evaluation of progress made towards the MDGs at the 2010 review.
Date and venue
As stated in the Terms of Reference of STATCOM-Africa, one of its mandates is to ensure the coordination with the United Nations Statistical Commission (UN STATCOM), which takes place annually in February/March. Moreover, STATCOM-Africa has to report to the CoM, which generally takes place annually in May/June. Accordingly, STATCOM-Africa-II will take place from 18 to 22 January 2010, at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
It is a common practice within the UNECA to have the discussions of a subsidiary body around a theme. Accordingly, STATCOM-Africa meetings should be built around a theme. The theme for STATCOM-Africa-II is: “Harnessing Financial and Technical Resources in Support of the Monitoring of Millennium Development Goals in African Countries”.
The objectives of StatCom-Africa II include:
A review of ongoing efforts in support of the monitoring and evaluation of progress made by African countries towards the MDGs;
Taking stock of progress made by different Working Groups set up during the first meeting of the Commission;
Exchange of experiences and best practices on ongoing efforts by sub regional, regional, and international organizations as well as development partners in statistical development on the continent;
Exchange experiences and best practices on countries’ efforts in their quest to support their national, regional, and international development initiatives with quality statistics;
To work out modalities for the coordination of ongoing statistical capacity building activities on the continent; and
To agree on a proposed list of items for consideration by STATCOM-Africa-III. In this regards, the Secretariat should prepare such a list in close consultation with major players on the continent and based on emerging priorities from, among others, the ASCC, the CoM, the Africa Symposia on Statistical Development in Africa (ASSD), the Forum on African Statistical Development (FASDEV), and the UN STATCOM.
The work of the Commission shall consist of a mix of plenary and breakaway sessions. The proposed agenda of the meeting is as follows:
Sunday 17 January 2010
Day I will be dedicated to a “Seminar on Statistical Capacity Building” as a pre- STATCOM-Africa event. Major stakeholders involved in statistical capacity building activities will be making presentations on their activities and potential issues and challenges they are facing in doing so. Presenters will include: The ASCC, the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21), InWent, and the World Bank.
Monday 18 January 2010
Registration, opening remarks, keynote address
Adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters
Reports from STATCOM-Africa Working Groups set up during the first meeting:
Tuesday 19 January 2010
Reporting on other ongoing and new/emerging issues:
2010 Round of Population and Housing Censuses
Environment statistics and climate change
Coordination of statistical activities
Report of the ASCC on statistical development in Africa
Report on the Reference Regional Strategic Framework for Statistical Capacity Building in Africa (RRSF) implementation
Report on the National Strategies for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) implementation in Africa
Report on the African Charter for Statistics
Wednesday 20 January 2010
A review of ongoing efforts in support of the monitoring and evaluation of progress made by African countries towards the MDGs:
Global perspective: IAEG
Regional perspective: ACS and ASCC
Current strategies and activities:
MDG Africa Group: Cluster on Statistics
Monitoring development beyond 2015
Thursday 21 January 2010
Report on statutory issues by the Secretariat
Discussions on the forthcoming UN STATCOM (country participation, contribution of the region on proposed agenda items)
Proposed date and agenda items for the Third STATCOM-Africa
Any other business
Friday 22 January 2010
FASDEV takes place as a post STATCOM-Africa event. Technical and financial partners (TFP) will present the status of the support to statistical capacity building in Africa. These include PARIS21, the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), InWent, etc.
As per the STATCOM-Africa’s ToRs, the Secretariat will accept the following documents for the sessions:
Documents for discussion: limited to 16 pages in length, these documents should be forwarded to the Secretariat by 15 November 2009 to allow for translation and clearance. Statutory documents of the Secretariat fall under this category.
Background documents: Information from participants and the Secretariat, which are of potential interest to the Commission. They will require clearance by the Secretariat prior to distribution and adequate number of copies should be made available by their authors. No translation services provided for these documents by the Secretariat.
Room documents: could be made available, for information, during the session at the initiative of their authors without any responsibility of the Secretariat.
Every member state sends an official government delegation led by the Head of the National Statistical Office (NSO) and may include and is not limited to statisticians, information and geo-information specialists and policymakers. Representatives from countries outside Africa, United Nations agencies, sub-regional, regional and international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, academic and research institutions, civil society organizations and private practitioners are also invited to participate and contribute to the debates.
STATCOM-Africa being a statutory meeting of the UNECA, delegates and observers are expected to cover the cost of their travel and subsistence for the duration of their stay in Addis Ababa. Nevertheless, to improve the attendance, pre and post STATCOM-Africa workshops/seminars shall be arranged in collaboration with partners, who may fund the cost associated with bringing the experts and facilitators, and sometimes the travel and subsistence of invited participants at the workshops.