The AfDB launches new guidelines for Statistical Business Registers in Africa

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The Statistical Capacity Building Program of the African Development Bank responds to the needs of AfDB’s regional member countries (RMCs) as well as the Bank’s commitments in support of aid effectiveness, such as the Paris Declaration, the Marrakech Action Plan for Statistics (MAPS) and the Busan Plan of Action of the High-Level Forum in 2011.

Under the guidance of Oliver Chinganya, Manager of the AfDB’s Statistical Capacity Building Division, within the Statistics Department (ESTA), the AfDB has developed Statistical Business Register (SBR) Guidelines for African countries. ESTA decided SBRs was a key strategic area in improving economic statistics in Regional Member Countries and that Guidelines should be written and promulgated.

The core team that participated in preparing the Guidelines included Besa Muwele, AfDB Senior Statistician, and Michael Colledge – a statistical consultant with more than 30 years’ experience working for Statistics Canada, the Australia Bureau of Statistics and organizations like the AfDB, OECD and the World Bank. The guidelines, now available in book and electronic formats, were discussed during an AfDB meeting with heads of National Statistical Offices on Sunday, February 16 in Gaborone, Botswana, ahead of the 9th African Symposium on Statistical Development. During the meeting, Besa Muwele and Michael Colledge made a presentation on the Bank’s new SBR Guidelines.

Why are these guidelines so important? “African economic statistics have been criticized and are under scrutiny,” Colledge explains. “One of the areas that can be a source of problems is in the dysfunctional SBR. The Guidelines are invaluable in enabling National Statistical Offices to improve their SBRs.”

When asked to elaborate further, Colledge outlines the following reasons why SBRs are critical to the gathering of economic statistics on the continent:

  • Good economic statistics are vital for decision-making and monitoring by country governments and international organizations, and for researchers and the community at large.
  • Surveys of enterprises are a major source of economic statistics.
  • Each survey requires a good survey frame as its starting point. The frame for an economic survey comprises the list of enterprises that are the target population of the survey, for example, all manufacturers in the country, together with sufficient information about those enterprises to select a sample and to contact them. Without a good frame the statistics derived from a survey are inevitably of poor or unknown quality.  
  • A National Statistical Office (NSO) conducts a number of surveys. In order to help ensure the statistics produced by the suite of economic surveys are consistent with one another, these surveys should derive their frames from the same source, namely the Statistical Business Register (SBR). It is also more efficient for a single SBR to provide frames for all economic surveys than for each survey to maintain its own frame.
  • Many African NSOs do not have a functioning SBR, or the SBR is of poor quality. For that reason, the AfDB has made improvement of SBRs in African countries a strategic priority.
  • Developing the SBR Guidelines is the first step in the improvement process. The Guidelines provide a framework for each NSO to introduce or enhance its SBR.