AfDB: “The Power of Statistics is Recognised for Inclusive Growth,” Says Expert Beejaye Kokil

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To what extent does the African Development Bank (AfDB) see inclusive growth as an overarching policy objective? What changes, if any, would Management and the Boards want to see in the Bank’s strategy, in order to deal with inclusive growth?

Does the Bank have the right statistical instruments among others, to respond to the needs of its regional member countries in dealing with inclusive growth? No Bank expert is indifferent to the on-going debate on “Inclusive growth”.

According to the AfDB Statistics Division Manager, Kokil Beejaye, statistics play a vital role in poverty reduction and in various development challenges facing Africa. “Good statistics also improve the transparency and accountability of policy making, both of which are essential for good governance, by enabling electorates to judge the success of government policies and to hold their government to account for those policies. And good statistics are essential to manage the effective delivery of basic services,” Kokil explained.

The power of statistics is recognised in the design and implementation stages of country policy frameworks, such as Poverty Reduction Strategies. Its key role is to monitor progress towards development.

This agenda therefore poses serious challenges to country statistical systems to provide timely information on a wide range of indicators at sectoral, national, and sub-national levels.

In this context strong country specific diagnostics are important for prioritizing and shaping inclusive growth policies to fit country needs. With the new trend, the Statistics department (ESTA), through its regional and country programs will continue to play a leading role in countries with weak statistical systems, through its technical assistance and support, to build statistical capacity in regional member countries and fill the knowledge gaps.

Kokil also dwelt on the Bank Group, partnering with other bilateral and multilateral development institutions with regard to providing technical assistance, funding, monitoring and supervision. “The Bank Group has established a strong network of partners with the World Bank, IMF, PARIS21, UNECA, UNDP, DFID-UK, INSEE-France, ACBF, ILO, FAO, UNSD, WHO among others.”

Coordination of statistical activities at the international level, he explained, is achieved through the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA) which brings together all the key international and regional institutions engaged in statistical development work in the global statistical system to discuss coordination and related issues.  

At the regional level, coordination of statistical activities is achieved through the African Statistical Coordination Committee (ASCC) chaired jointly by AfDB and ECA. The ASCC provides a forum to discuss mechanisms for achieving greater synergy among the institutions, and for coordinating statistical programs and activities in the RMCs. “The AfDB, AUC and UNECA have joined their efforts to produce jointly each year the African Statistical Yearbook, that provides key statistics on RMCs; and the African MDG Report (in partnership with UNDP) that tracks progress of the continent towards the MDGs,” Kokil also affirmed.

Also speaking about the African Start-up Index (ASI), Kokil said it is a crucial tool with regard to Bank’s know-how as to knowledge product monitoring and evaluation, to contribute to entrepreneurship capacity development. “ESTA will play a critical role to facilitate the data collection, management and compilation of the index”.  

Because resources in developing countries are very limited, good statistics are necessary to help ensure that the available resources put into development are used as effectively as possible. “All these will form part of our contributions to inclusive growth,” Kokil concluded.