Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Data for African Development


The quality, availability, timeliness and use of basic economic and demographic data to inform policy remain significant challenges across Africa. These challenges stem in part from limitations in technical know-how and qualified human resources, but also from the barriers created by misaligned political and institutional incentives within governments and persistent difficulties in aid coordination from donors. As a result there is a huge need for better examination of the political economy challenges faced by donors and countries.

While there are many international groups and initiatives working to improve methodologies for measurement and coordination and to build country statistical capacity, there are few working to assess and seek solutions to the underlying political economy drivers of poor quality data for policymaking. Understanding the reasons for this gap in available data and whether there are perverse incentives operating that are preventing the information from being collected and used is one way this group could decrease potential barriers and improve data for development in Africa.

The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), based in Nairobi, Kenya and the Center for Global Development, based in Washington, D.C., have teamed up to address these major data challenges through a new working group—the Data for African Development Working Group— which is working to identify the underlying political economy issues related to the collection, analysis and use of data for policy-making. The APHRC-CGD Data for African Development Working Group is currently examining two aspects of these major data challenges. Firstly, the group will examine the relationship between the institutional arrangements governing national statistics systems as they relate to efficient and timely production of data. Secondly, the Working Group will explore issues of data access and provide recommendations for countries, international organizations, and donors that illustrate how new initiatives like Open Data and others can help provide a platform for countries and international organizations to better publish and utilize data.

The Working Group is made up of 26 members with diverse backgrounds in statistics and development fields in Africa. Members include leaders from country statistical offices from across the continent; several regional groups including individuals from COMESA, INDEPTH, IHME; and international organizations such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union (AU), United National Economic Commission for African (UNECA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank. The group had its first meeting September 17-18 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Working Group Members

  • Ibrahima Ba, Institut National de la Statistique, Côte d’Ivoire
    Inge Vervloesem, UNESCO
    Philomena Nyarko, Ghana Statistical Service
    Chukwudozie Ezigbalike, UNECA
    Abadila Berrou, Former head of PARIS21
    Alex Ezeh, APHRC
    Amanda Glassman, CGD
    Angela Arnott, UNECA
    Catherine Kyobutungi, APHRC
    Chris Finch, World Bank
    Eloi Ouedraogo, FAO
    Gabriel Demombynes, World Bank
    Justin Sandefur, CGD
    Kobus Herbst, INDEPTH
    Kutoati Adjewoda Koami, AUC
    Markus Goldstein, World Bank
    Meshesha Getahun, COMESA
    Peter DeCosta, Hewlett Representative
    Peter Speyer, IHME
    Themba Munalula, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
    Ties Boerma, WHO
    Victoria Fan, CGD
    Yeo Dossina, African Union
    Samia Zekaria, Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia
    Salami M.O. Muri, National Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria