Africa in need of data revolution

Lack of accurate data in Africa is a development and social cohesion challenge as it continues to make progress monitoring and decision making difficult. A new report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa that is set to be published at the end of this year tries to look at these challenges and how countries can work towards a better system and technology implementation to address the issue.

The Africa Data Revolution Report examines social cohesion using data from a wide variety of sources, including national statistics institutes and international organizations. It states that development agendas such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require that all the actors, stakeholders and beneficiaries have access to relevant information in order for them to play their respective roles in the development process, including implementation, monitoring and reporting on progress.

When it comes to measuring the impacts of human development and economic progress in Africa, a comprehensive review of the data ecosystem needs to be done. The report aims to identify common problems challenging countries and propose action plans applicable in the regional context, hence ultimately supporting data stakeholders in Africa in meeting new data demand from SDG and Agenda 2063.

It further looks into how technology has changed the way accurate data is being collected. It points out that mobile technology and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have irrevocably changed the way data is collected, shared and disseminated. Much of the environment data such as water quality, air quality, forest area, biodiversity and others cannot be collected without use of technology. The Report will look into the level of advancement and usage of technology in data production/consumption processes in the countries.

According to the ECA, the report will try to capture the current situation of data ecosystem in Africa based on the in-depth country assessments. It will further analyze the Sustainable Development Goals data needs and new data sources to identify the data gaps.