Experts push “Data Revolution” to strengthen development planning

Cotonu, Benin, 8 July 2015 (ECA) - A 'data revolution' must underpin development planning in Africa to help monitor progress and ensure the continent's poorest get the support they need, according to participants attending the High Level Policy Dialogue, hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa in Cotonou, Benin from 7 to 8 July 2015.

“The significance of this specific high level policy dialogue reflects the growing importance of having credible, relevant and affordable data to strengthen development policy and at the same time enable the tracking and monitoring of performance,” Mr. Adeyemi Dipeolou, the Director of the Capacity Development Division at ECA told participants.

Mr. Dipeolu highlighted the symbolism of choosing this topic for this year's dialogue, as 2015 was the year in which all the Millennium Development Goals were supposed to have been achieved and at the same time marks the transition to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The delegates at the Policy Dialogue agreed that national governments need to take a lead role in the Data Revolution to realize the transformative changes that are required to produce and disseminate high quality disaggregated data.

Delegates also noted that for the Data Revolution to succeed, basic building blocks in the form of robust National Statistics Offices must be in place and appropriately resourced. Furthermore, an opportunity exists for all governments to embrace new technologies and make use of new data sources to improve data literacy, collection and sharing for accountability.

Mr. Sylvain Boko, Principal Regional Advisor in the Capacity Development Division of ECA said, “the goal of government policy is to ensure a decent living to citizens and to achieve this, Governments must know who the targeted people are, where they live, how they live, when they are born and when they die, and what their needs are”.

Summarizing the issues raised during the Policy Dialogue, Mr Boko highlighted the need for African countries to adopt the Africa Data Consensus; stronger engagement of the private sector; eradication of data inequality; investment in capacity development; and development of monitoring and evaluation strategies into national development plans.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Dipeolu urged participants to maintain and sustain the conversation on a continuous basis and keep the network alive.

Held on the theme, Impact of the Data Revolution on Development Planning in Africa, the High Level Policy Dialogue was attended by Directors General responsible for Planning in African countries and officials from African countries. Present were also representatives of UN organisations in Benin and senior officials of the Government of Benin.

Policy Dialogues, organized by the Capacity Development Division, aim to bring the knowledge generated by ECA research including through strategic initiatives to the direct attention of constituents.  The policy dialogues are also intended to underpin ECA advisory services on four key areas, notably, macroeconomic policy, development planning, industrialization and natural resource contract negotiations.  High level policy dialogues facilitate an exchange of views and dissemination amongst peers on matters of topical or strategic interest.

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