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Statistician General Seeks Improved Funding For Africa’s Statistical Systems

The Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, on Wednesday canvassed the need for African governments to commit more funds to their nation’s statistical projects as a strategic option of fast-tracking socio-economic development and maintaining peace in the various countries.

Dr Kale, who gave the charge in his Keynote Address delivered during the 2020 African Statistics Day Celebration virtual meeting, recounted the recent achievements of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to upgrade Nigeria’s statistics system and commended the Federal Government and development agencies that had helped the agency to record the innovative milestones.

The Statistician General noted that in Nigeria and other African countries remarkable progress had been made in key areas of digitization of household-based surveys and other censuses being conducted in various countries in the continent, describing statistics as key to sustainable growth globally.

Specifically, he said the NBS in recognition of the huge demand placed on it as the coordinating body for Nigeria’s statistical system, had, in recent times, worked to institutionalize enhanced electronic data collection systems, established a new Real-Time Data Monitoring and Quality Assurance System; and introduced the use of phone method of data collection with the installation of a new Call Centre in the headquarters, amongst other innovative strides to enhance the nation’s statistical system.

But then, the statistician, who was represented at the forum by the Director, Real Sector, Mr. Adeyemi Adeniran, pointed out that more could have been achieved if funding had been adequate and by implication, provided more statistics-based information to the government to help it address the insecurity challenges and restore peace to troubled regions in the country.

He said: “Even as the NBS strives to achieve its vision and mission in this technologically changing world, there is need to address the bottlenecks it regularly encounters in carrying out its mandatory duties. It is imperative to also emphasize that data production is inherently capital intensive.

“Translating from manual data production to a computerized system requires significant and sustainable financial investment from all relevant stakeholders, especially the national government. More sustainable funding should be allocated to national statistical systems in Africa for the regular production of core statistics relating to sustainable peace and development with a view to keeping society and government well informed.

“We will also continue to seek increased technical cooperation with development partners in carrying out much needed national data gathering activities, especially as they relate to security and socio-economic statistics in line with the theme of this year’s African Statistics Day (ASD) celebration”, Dr Kale assured.

Earlier in Opening Address, the Minister of State, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, had stressed the importance of a strong national statistical system with good infrastructure for collection, processing, compilation, analysis, dissemination and archiving to national development, particularly in maintaining peace and security in the country.

The minister, who was represented by the Director, Macroeconomics Department of the ministry, Mr David Adeosun, urged “all users of statistics to effectively collaborate with the producers of statistics information to enable the desired results to be attained.

“In this regard, the use of data should form an essential element of government’s decision making process as timely statistical information is expected to provide the basis for decision making in the governance of the country”, the minister added.

In his goodwill message, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Regional Director and Country Representative for Nigeria and ECOWAS, UNIDO Regional Hub Nigeria, Jean Bakole, harped on the criticality of statistical data to national development and described the theme of the 2020 African Statistics Day ‘Modernizing National Statistical Systems To Provide Data and Statistics To Support Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa”, as apt in view of the insecurity challenges most of the countries in Africa are contending with.

Bakole, who was represented by Dr. Reuben Bamidele, charged the African governments to massively invest in their countries’ statistical systems upgrade, particularly in enhancing the capacity of their personnel and infrastructure, in order to reduce poverty and insecurity in the continent.

The UNIDO chief assured that the global organization would continue to support Nigeria’s and other countries’ statistics agencies in the efforts to enhance their functionality and contributions to national development across the continent.

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