Current, reliable and trusted data critical for Africa’s growth

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The virtual United Nations World Data Forum ended Wednesday with the Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Director for the Africa Statistics Centre, Oliver Chinganya, stressing the importance of current, reliable and trusted data to ensure Africa leaves no one behind as it implements the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063, the continent’s blueprint for development.

Speaking on a panel discussing the theme; Balancing Data and Data Protection: Learning from African Experiences, Chinganya said building trust in a field littered with many players is difficult but critical if it is to be used to unlock Africa’s full potential through evidence-based policymaking that will change people’s lives at the grassroots level.

He emphasized the importance of protecting data security, investing in quality data infrastructure, and practicing good governance to ensure laws and regulations are in place in member States to regulate collection, management and use of the numbers.

“Everyone agrees that data is important and has value. It is like a currency. It is gold. Others have even called it the new oil. It is simply an asset,” said Chinganya. “Everyone is interested in data and therefore we must have rules on how it is managed and used by everyone for everyone.”

He said this is why the UN Fundamental Principles on Official Statistics are in place, along with statistical laws or Statistics Acts and Statistics Code of Ethics, and in Africa in particular, the African Charter on Statistics to avoid abuse.

Chinganya underscored that the statistics landscape is one of the most populated areas with many actors but, he stressed, the national statistical office remained the authority on official statistics.

He said it was encouraging that most African countries now have data protection laws.