Africa needs better data to track progress as growth rises: Lufumpa

19/05/2014
Share |

Kicking off the first day of the Annual Meetings was “Tracking Africa’s Progress” on the challenges of establishing targets and making policies with insufficient or poor data. Over the years, many African countries have significantly scaled up their data collection efforts, but challenges remain with regard to the timely dissemination of the data to users.

The moderator of the session, Financial Times’ Africa Editor. Javier Blas highlighted that from health to education, social issues to policy-making, Africa still lacks the necessary information and statistics to track progress.

This is a pressing challenge given Africa’s progressive rise in growth and global standing. In his presentation on the results of the International Comparison Programme for Africa (ICP), the Banks Statistics Department Director Charles Leyeka Lufumpa shared data on African economies.

Lufumpa said the continent’s five top economies – Nigeria, South African, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco – take the largest part of Africa’s GDP, while the smallest economies – Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Burundi – take less than 1% of the Africa’s GDP. “Africa’s share in the global economy has grown slightly from 4.5% in 2011 up to 5% in 2013. Africa is now the fourth region in the global economy after overtaking Western Asia.”

Nigeria is now the biggest economy on the continent after the ongoing exercise of GDP re-basing by some African countries. Angola is the most expensive, while countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania have the general lowest prices on the continent. In particular, Ethiopia and Uganda have the cheapest food prices.

“This comparison is used to measure the sizes of our economies, as well as the households’ welfare. It’s useful in tracking our progress because it helps us harmonize our economic policies in our regional integrations,” Lufumpa said.

He added that ICP provides information that can be used to foster intra-African trade which is currently at a comparatively low level.

Vladimir Eskin, Managing Director of Prognoz, gave updates on the AfDB’s Africa Information Highway (AIH), which is a tool for countries to develop as much data as possible. “We have initiated an open data platform for countries to have a uniform platform where they can put will have all the statistics,” said Eskine. There is also e-government, an initiative to encourage countries to put all their data in one repository.

On the importance of statistics, “many African countries don’t give statistics the importance they deserve,” remarked Yusuf Mago Murangwa, Director of Rwanda’s National Institute of Statistics (NISR). He stressed that having statistics and not disseminating them, not exploiting the important data collected was a lost opportunity and made it difficult to justify the cost of collecting and producing the data.

Murangwa explained that African governments should put more effort in producing accurate numbers, because “policy-makers and business partners need the data to help them identify opportunities. In Rwanda we are committed to collecting statistics and disseminating them to decision-makers in order to accelerate the country’s economic growth.”

More than 3000 delegates are attending the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to discuss new strategies to tackle poverty, underdevelopment, and put their weight behind global negotiations to ensure the continent enters a new era.