Opening Statement by Mr. Oliver J.M Chinganya - Manager, Statistical Capacity Building Division, Statistics Department, African Development Bank Group
Opening Statement by
Oliver J.M Chinganya
Manager, Statistical Capacity Building Division
African Development Bank Group
Hon. Minister of Economy & Finance of Tunisia, Mr. Hakim Ben Hamounda,
Commissioner, Dept. of Econ. Affairs, AUC, Dr. Anthony Mathae Maruping
Director of the Department of Economics, Dr. Rene N’Guettia Kouassi,
Director General, National Institute of Statistics, Tunisia, Mr. Saidi Hedi Representatives of development partners
Director Generals of National Statistical Offices,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the African Development Bank Group, may I also join others in welcoming you all to this First Joint Session of the Committee of Directors General of National Statistics Office and the Statistical Commission for Africa. Let me also express our gratitude to UNECA, AUC, the National Institute of Statistics of Tunisia and all those who have made this meeting possible. At the Bank, we are convinced that sound statistics represent a key weapon in the battle against poverty, in meeting the integration agenda and many other facets, and hence we are committed to developing statistical systems and capacity in our Regional Member Countries.
As you are all aware, recently there has been a substantial increase in demand for improved development statistics at the international, regional and national levels. This arises mainly from the increased emphasis on results measurement and evidence-based policy making as well as greater demand for government accountability. This demand is even going to be heightened with the need to meet the Post 2015 Development Agenda within the sphere of Data revolution. This development has put statistics at the center of the global effort to reduce poverty and promote economic and social development. It presents both an opportunity and a challenge to the statistical community. This joint session therefore is a very welcome initiative as it provides a forum for discussions of these opportunities and challenges. The Bank therefore reiterates its strong commitment to play a strategic and supportive role to ensure that 1st Joint Session of the Committee of Directors General of National Statistics Office and the Statistical Commission for Africa meets its mandate.
We also welcome the efforts being made by various partners and the countries themselves to improve statistical capacity within the region. A lot is being done already but substantial challenges still remain and much more needs to be done. This therefore calls for renewed efforts at scaling-up financing to support sound country owned programs for statistical capacity building. Consistent with this, the Bank, on its part, is in the process of executing a phase four statistical capacity building program starting from January 2015 which will build on and reinforce previous phases of statistical capacity building programs
Ladies & Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure and honour for me on behalf of the AfDB to make the opening remarks on this important occasion on;
(i) the first joint session of the Committee of Director Generals of National Statistics Office and the Statistical Commission for Africa focusing on the theme: “Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”; and,
(ii) the Inaugural Meeting of the African Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM-Africa) under the theme: “Making Statistics and Maps count”;
In the course of the Meeting the Bank will (i) hold a side meeting with the Director Generals to update them on the current Statistical Capacity Building Program and the planned work agenda for 2015; and (ii) organize a meeting of the African Statistical Coordination Committee (ASCC) to discuss the coordination of work on statistical capacity building and activities in Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Joint Session of CoDG and StatCom-Africa will continue to focus on advancing the progress on national and continental policies, strategies and action plans on statistical development and activities in Africa in a more coordinated manner. It will deliberate on issues concerning strategy, methodology, coordination, harmonization, technical cooperation and organizational matters in African statistical systems. It will evaluate and deliberate on the progress in recent statistical initiatives, programs and actions to address statistical challenges in Africa and provide future strategic direction to the work program and coordination mechanism by AfDB, ECA, AUC, the development partners and RMCs.
The focus on the theme of “Agriculture and Food Security” in Africa reflects the importance of agriculture to African countries as a key driver of economic and household income growth and employment, prospects of improving living standards and poverty reduction among the rural population and increased food security. These contribute immensely to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On the other hand, the priority to investment in the agricultural sector and agricultural information systems by most African governments and development partners has not been commensurate with the importance and priority the sector deserves. Though some progress has been made in a few countries, on the average, most African countries are still far below the minimum level of 10% of the national budget allocation recommended by the African Union to be dedicated to agricultural development and activities to reach the continental objectives in agriculture and food security.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The limited scope of the strategic framework for agricultural development in Africa contributes in large part to the challenges to agricultural statistical systems. Many African countries are limited in their ability to generate the evidence base information needed for improved agricultural policies; implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the plans and programs. They have not formulated agricultural sector development strategies and monitoring and evaluation systems in their development plans that provide the basis for appropriate agricultural sector statistical strategies and work programs for the collection, management and dissemination of agricultural statistics. In the absence of such strategies, programs and work plan, issues related to capacity, reliability and use of statistical information cannot be addressed effectively. These fundamental weaknesses contribute to serous controversies and doubts on the integrity and reliability of agricultural statistics in Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is against this backdrop that a Global Strategy for Improving Agriculture Statistics was endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) in February 2010 in order to respond to the need for: (a) improving the scope, quality and reliability of agricultural statistics in developing countries, (b) new data requirements to inform policy on emerging development issues on agricultural output, climate, environment, and food security, and (c) innovative technics, harmonization and integration of data systems to achieve synergy and cost-effectiveness.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The inaugural meeting of the Global Geospatial Information Management in Africa (GGIM-Africa) comes at the time when there is a call under the emerging Data Revolution for greater application of recent innovations in technology from the rapid progress, availability and applications of ICT infrastructure and solutions to enhance work processes, including data collection and processing, facilitating complex data analyses and standardizing work processes. They provide better approaches to countries for improving the data quality and reliability. The GGIM-Africa about to be launched and endorsed would constitute the African regional chapter of the Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) initiative established by the United Nations Secretariat. This initiative aims at setting up a formal mechanism under the UN auspices to discuss and coordinate GGIM activities globally among member states and other stakeholders. The choice of “Making Statistics and Maps count” takes into account the importance of real-time statistics in geospatial information. This relationship is systematically being exploited as a regular procedures in statistical activities such Population and Housing Census; household surveys and agricultural census and surveys. The GGIM-Africa provides the framework for deliberation on the challenges, strategies and action plan for mainstreaming geospatial technology into national statistical activities; and, coordination of GGIM activities in Africa. .
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me now turn to the AfDB Statistical Capacity Building Program
Allow me to remark that the themes and issues in the agenda of the Joint Session are being addressed by the Statistical Capacity Building (SCB) program being implemented by the Bank since 2002. Under the Global Strategy for Improving Statistics for Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development, the Action Plan for Africa was formulated by the AfDB, the UNECA, and the FAO. Let me note that Africa was the first region to initiate the implementation of the Global Strategy. The components of the plan comprise technical assistance, training and research as well as a governance mechanism. Countries are being assisted to formulate comprehensive and detailed country strategic plans as the first step for implementing the components. The Action Plan is expected to increase the number of African countries able to (i) produce the minimum core food and agricultural data set to meet the current and emerging statistical demands of various users and stakeholders; (ii) use of agricultural data for improved policy and decision-making; and, (iii) produce comparable data across countries.
At the recent regional work shop held in Maputo, participants agreed on the technical assistance program based on country-driven activities within the framework of the Action Plan for Africa. The Bank will provide financial and technical support for the implementation of these activities.
As part of its African Information Highway (AIH) initiative under the SCB, the Bank plans to significantly expand access to agricultural information, including the establishment of a Farmer Registry and consolidating Agricultural Information Systems in each African country and the region in the areas of food prices, aggregate agricultural information on all farmers and creating a digital farm mapping system. The Bank will continue to support countries to promote the use of best practices in IT solutions and adoption of available advanced technologies, systems and processes for field data collection, analysis and dissemination. It will continue to promote innovative approaches, such as satellite-based technology to generate real time results for evidence-based planning and decision-making to complement administrative reporting systems and surveys.
In conclusion, I would like to seize this opportunity to reiterate the strong commitment the African Development Bank to its regional member countries to improve statistical system and ensure their sustainability. The Bank stands ready and is available to provide technical and financial assistance that may be required and fulfil its assigned key role. But in turn countries also have a responsibility to ensure that the mutual partnership is upheld and making funds available by investing in data generation, and accessibility.
Finally, the Bank will sustain its financial and technical leadership to continue assisting our regional member countries and collaborating closely with other development partners for the implementation of the outcomes of the deliberations of the Joint Session.
I thank you for your attention and wish you a highly successful meeting.