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Statistics key to development in Africa

ASSD

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) says the importance of collecting accurate data cannot be overstated, as it remains a vital pillar in Africa’s development.

“Africa needs deep, precious statistics to quench the thirst for development,” Statistician General Pali Lehohla said on Tuesday.

The Statistician General was speaking at the 9th Africa Symposium on Statistical Development (ASSD) in Botswana.

The youth, said Lehohla, was key in passing on knowledge and skills.

“The task of focusing on the young African statisticians remains a matter of an informed self-interest and thus should address our massive problem of understanding and resolving Africa’s development problems through scientific diagnostics, prognosis and prescription within a democratic framework of governance,” said Lehohla.

The continent can only succeed if challenges are addressed collectively.

Lehohla said the continent has had “intricate interface” with issues of measurement, especially those in relation to official statistics like the undertaking of censuses.

He noted that for many cultures on the continent, it was a widely held belief that counting will draw them to an early death.

“We will not forget the experience of the colonial Congo state officials in 1908 when they faced resistance of the locals to be counted for tax purposes. The officials thought the people were resisting tax, whereas they were resisting to be counted,” he noted.

Though the continent was complex, Lehohla said Africa had used the ASSD to equip itself to play a meaningful role in the 2010 Round of Censuses.

“To this end, Uganda is counting after postponing its census twice.  Angola needs to be cheered as it goes to count in May this year after four decades without a count of its citizens.  Somalia is undertaking surveys to estimate its population as we speak.  The DRC has missed the 2010 round but its preparations are so advanced that Africa will converge there in 2015 to close the count and deliver on the commitment for Africa counts in the 2010 Round of Censuses,” said Lehohla.

The ASSD is a forum of African statisticians created to address concerns around statistics and related matters of measurement. – SAnews.gov.za

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