Africa needs more data to accelerate its development
In its current circumstance, for Africa to realize its development agenda, it is imperative to go beyond the existing approach to statistical data, its utilization and data restrictions and open up more ways to bring in data, with the involvement of its people, Chief, Data Technology Section at United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA),DozieEzigbalike, has said.
As more and more global bodies canvass across the globe for the availability of data, its easy accessibility, and utilization, it is deepening the consciousness of the masses of people in the developing continent of Africa, in leading the charge for a data revolution that would spur growth.
Against this backdrop, Dozie Ezigbalike said the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030’s concept of ‘leaving no one behind’ to a large extent implies that the already existing data is not sufficient, requiring more data collection and its openness to influence policy decisions.
But this, he noted, could be attained with the participation of key constituents while also making a gritty effort to improve the quality of current data, in Africa.
The UNECA data technologist asserted that data used by governments in addressing the challenges of it people should include data gathered by civil society groups, NGOs amongst others, thereby expanding the scope of those who produce data.
In an interview during a session to discuss some of the key highlights of the ‘Africa Data Revolution Report,’ at the backdrop of the 2nd Africa Open Data Conference in Accra, he said the reportshows that statistical data is relevant but must be strengthened, and underscores the point that governments alone cannot be relied upon for producing data.
The report also emphasizes the need for the disaggregation of data. And this, he hinted will open up development issues; bringing into the light things pertaining to specific communities and others.
A policy specialist, at the United Nations Development Programme, Serge Patrick Kapto, said the current sustainable development agenda and goals requires that countries, especially in Africa, think about development in a different way in achieving the ambition of ‘leaving no one behind.’
He said, notwithstanding the shortfalls in meeting the MDG targets, now the reality is that the bar has been set even higher; with many more SDGs, and indicators to track than it was with the MDGs.
‘In order to achieve this, we will need to think very differently onhow we implement development, how we partner with others, how government processes are actually structured to deliver development to the people,and actually who those people are that not receiving the benefit of development, among others.
All of these, he opined that will require a significant amount of data.
He noted that one fundamental part of the SDG goals is that no one of the development areas can be addressed on its own. “Not only do we need to track all of it but we need to implement them together because they all have an effect on one another,” he added.
“And for that we need to build the right analytical tools that bring data from all these different areas of development and allow us to understand how they interact with one another, so that we can build the right tools to either understand what the bottlenecks to development can be and how we can unplug these bottlenecks or understand the areas where we can invest and have an accelerated impact on development.
“For that we need to have the right data to inform the new analytical tools that we have to develop.” He further emphasized.
Mr.Kapto further remarked that there is a need to direct a lot of efforts towards strengthening data literacy among the general public, which will help people to know the significance of data, the kind of data to demand from policy makers, the usefulness of data they collect amongst others.