Schweinfest says reaching out to policymakers on benefits of SDMX crucial

Addis Ababa, 4 October 2017 (ECA) - The 6th Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange global conference continued in Addis Ababa Wednesday with participants breaking into groups for a two-day capacity building phase that seeks to develop and strengthen their skills and abilities in using SDMX in statistical process in their respective countries and organisations.

In closing remarks after two days of plenary sessions, United Nations Statistics Division Director, Stefan Schweinfest, urged countries and organisations that have not yet embraced SDMX to adopt the tool for statistical data production as well as data exchange.

Mr. Schweinfest said initially he was skeptical of the tool but has since become a big believer, seeing the immense benefits it brings in the statistical production process.

“These conferences are extraordinarily useful because they bring the entire community, which is very diverse, together and I can tell you that we have taken very good notes and we will try to immediately transfer what we heard from you and the conclusions into the action plan,” he told participants from over 90 countries, including 45 from Africa, attending the conference.

He said he had two takeaways from the conference so far.

“One is on improving communication. We do have to explain what this SDMX means and why it is good for policymakers, for a lot of people. That is not easy. I had to travel this process, I told you I was scared at the beginning but now I’m a believer,” he said.

The second takeaway, he said, was that his belief that SDMX is good for the entire statistical system was confirmed at the conference.

“It really helps to put order in the house, to make sure the right people talk to each other the right way so we build a system that is solid and sustainable,” said Mr. Schweinfest.

African Centre for Statistics Director, Oliver Chinganya, in his closing remarks said the past two days had been very productive with participants now well-acquainted with the use and benefits of SDMX, particularly those coming from developing countries.

“There are challenges though that need to be resolved in some countries, like internet access to transmit data, even internally and also outside. That is something that needs to be looked at in terms of putting the right infrastructure in place,” he said.

Mr. Chinganya said there was need for more advocacy to sell SDMX in developing countries, especially at the policy level, with experts explaining to lawmakers why it is important for countries to embrace and join others in using SMDX.

He said a clear roadmap needs to be drawn on how SDMX will be rolled out in Africa, adding the ECA stands ready to work with member States to support them to embrace innovative methods and tools in statistical data production as well as adopting SDMX as a primary tool for data exchange.  

“It’s a big challenge. At the ECA we are committed to make sure SDMX becomes a standard and the primary tool to transmit data,” said Mr. Chinganya, adding the Commission is also ready to use its convening power to enhance its dialogue with member States, research institutions, as well as other sectors, including working in collaboration with the sponsors group, to increase awareness and ensure that SDMX permeates through the continent. 

SDMX is an international initiative that aims to standardize and modernize mechanisms and processes for the exchange of statistical data and metadata among international organisations and their member countries. It is an ISO standard for data and metadata dissemination and has become a basis to design statistical processes.


Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826