Today is Africa Statistics Day, designated by the Economic
Commission for Africa to create an awareness of the role Statistics play in the
development agenda of African countries. Various activities are expected across
the continent, with some countries declaring it a working holiday. The theme
for today's celebration is Enhancing Data Production and Dissemination for
Effective Socio-Economic Policy Analysis and Management.
This year's observance marks the sixth occasion on which African
Statistics Day is being commemorated since its initiation in November of 1990.
Professor Ben Kiregyra is the Director of the African Center for Statistics of
the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He tells reporter Peter
Clottey from Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa today's celebration gives African
countries the opportunity to use good statistics to improve the lives of the
ordinary people on the continent.
is a day, which was set aside by a conference of African ministers responsible
for planning and development to be celebrated each year with the view of
increasing greater awareness in African societies about the role and importance
of statistics. And this was in the context of the Addis Ababa plan of action
for statistical development in Africa in 1990s, which was endorsed by the
conference of African ministers in 1990," Kiregyra pointed out.
He described the importance
of the celebration of African Statistics Day.
"This day is significant in
the sense that it creates great awareness about the need at country level of a
government to not only ensure that good statistics are collected in the
country, but also to make sure that good statistics are used by government and
by the private sector, the civil society for planning, for decision-making, or
monitoring for evaluation, and indeed for reporting," he said.
Kiregyra says various
African governments are finding statistics useful.
"Statistics has really
become part of the national infrastructure for development and that when they
are weak, it becomes difficult to achieve development at country level,"
He said African countries
have embraced the need to have statistics as a tool to help in the planning of
"The African Center for
Statistics being the Economic Commission for Africa advises countries on the
theme for each year's celebration. And the theme for the celebration of this
year is the challenge for food prices and agricultural development, the role of
statistics in all these. So when the countries get the theme, then they begin
to line up activities. And many activities are expected to be undertaken by
countries including organizing workshops. Namely, workshops between users and
producers of statistics to ensure that the two groups understand the importance
of statistics. They understand the statistics are available and they understand
what statistics need to be used and how they can be used in the policy and
planning processes in the countries," he said.
Kiregyra said there is need
for wide media coverage of today's activities.
"We also expect that there
would be a number of articles written in national newspapers. We also expect in
some countries, workshops, mainly for the media fraternity. And we expect the
media, once sensitized, can be used as a channel for dissemination of
statistics to the rest of society," Kiregyra noted.
As part of
the commemoration, the Economic Commission of Africa has invited all its 53
member countries to join the celebration as a reminder of the essential
functions, which statistics and development information systems serve in
Africa's economic and social evolution