Data for African Development

August 25, 2014

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., teamed up to address these major data challenges through the Data for African Development Working Group.  The Working Group identified the underlying political economy issues related to the collection, analysis and use of data for policy-making and examines the relationship between the institutional arrangements governing national statistics systems as they relate to efficient and timely production of data. 

The Group’s final report, released in July 2014, offers insight on where governments and donors should focus their efforts to deliver on the data revolution in the region, including: (1) fund more and fund differently, (2) build institutions that can produce accurate, unbiased data, and (3) prioritize the core attributes of data building blocks.

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