Africa must step up on statistics

Gaborone, Botswana, 18 February 2014 (ECA) -  Addressing more than 400 delegates at the official opening of the 9th African Symposium on Statistical Development (ASSD) in the capital of Botswana Gaborone, yesterday, Vice President of the Republic of Botswana Ponatshego Kedikwe said Africa needed to step up with the rest of the world in strengthening institutional systems and frameworks for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS). 
He called the poor state of vital statistical records a scandal of invisibility in which many citizen's existence are unaccounted for. "The scandal of invisibility is a scenario where many people are born, their existence not documented throughout their lifetime and eventually passing on without being accounted for, primarily because in Government records they just do not exist, said Kedikwe.
He argued that strong CRVS were critical to Governments because good policies and effective implementation of programs anchored on credible and accurate statistics. He said that statistics provided a body of empirical evidence required by Governments to evaluate progress of development and programmes, secure good governance and more so, to priorities allocation and distribution of scarce resources against competing needs. 
Meanwhile, Chairperson of ASSD and Statistician-General of Statistics South Africa, Pali Lehohla said that the chapter of censuses was nearing an end, as a new leaf was being opened. This chapter is on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics. Lehohla said that the harmonization of statistics will bring huge developments to the continent, advising Africa not to take the long painful detour to realize that statistics, like democracy, delivers transparency, accountability, results and transformation. 
The five day symposium which runs from 17-21 February is jointly organized by the Economic Commission for Africa, Africa Development Bank and the African Union and graciously hosted by the Government of Botswana under the theme - Promoting use of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Africa. Other organizing partners include Statistics South Africa, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR and WHO. 
The high-level meeting has attracted more than 450 delegates from across Africa and beyond representing African Governments, civil society, development organisations, UN institutions academia, media and other stakeholders. 
The huge turn-out and high level nature of the symposium underscores the growing stature and prominence of statistics in Africa.

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