Several proposals and recommendations on many statistical fields were the main outcomes of the 16th Committee of Directors General of the African Union (AU) National Statistics Offices (CoDGs) recently held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Better agricultural statistics, statistical support for nutrition and food security, and support for the implementation of the revised Strategy for the harmonization of statistics in Africa (SHaSA 2) were some of the main issues discussed.
The 16th CoDGs was held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea from 6 to 7 December 2022 under the AU 2022 Theme: “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on African Continent: Strengthening Agri-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems for Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development”.
The statutory event assembled high-level delegates from 42 African Union (AU) Member States, 5 Regional Economic Communities (RECs), African Union Commission (AUC), African Union Institute for Statistics (STATAFRIC), as well as several observers from international, continental, and regional organizations.
Calls for better food and agricultural statistics
One of the main outcomes of this meeting was the call for better statistics and indicators for assessing food insecurity and designing and monitoring agricultural policies. The CoDGs agreed to call upon African Union (AU) Member States to strengthen South–South cooperation in the area of agriculture statistics. They also requested the African Union Commission (AUC) and the International labour organization (ILO) to support AU Member States in developing comprehensive information systems on social protection.
In addition, the CoDGs called upon AUC, RECs, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and other Partners to set up a Coordination Framework for regular exchange on their support to the AU Member States on the production and dissemination of improved statistics including agriculture statistics. The CoDGs also Advised AU Member states to undertake Agriculture Censuses within three to five years after Population and Houses Censuses (PHC) to take advantage of the infrastructure put in place for PHC.
This came after, among others, presentations from the Director of Statistics, FAO, on strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent, and the International Organization for Migration representative (IOM), calling for better statistics for strengthening Health and Social Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development. Mali and Uganda also shared their national experience in Agriculture survey implementation, while Niger presented its National Information Platform for Nutrition (NIPN).
Implementation of SHaSA 2 on different levels
The progress on the implementation of the second Strategy for the harmonization of statistics in Africa (SHaSA 2) was also high on the agenda of the meeting. The mentioned calls and requests on agricultural statistics are major parts of this, but many other fields of statistics were also putted into consideration by the Directors General of the African Union National Statistical Offices (NSOs). Improvements in trade statistics and national accounts were mentioned specifically, as well as migration statistics, disability statistics, gender statistics, and modernization of African Statistical System. In addition, the CoDGs putted special emphasis on the operationalisation of the SHaSA 2 Specialised Technical Groups (STGs), as only 6 of the 18 STGs are operational as per now. The CoDGs requestsed AU Member States to express to the AUC their interest in leading and participating in the STGs by the end of January 2023 to allow the operationalisation of all STGs during 2023.
Technology, budget and endorsements
The CoDGs also covered a lot more issues during the two-day meeting, including calls for fast-tracking the implementation of the AU Head of States and Government Decision on allocation of 0,15% of national budget for the development of statistics in aim to ensuring better budgeting for statistics in all AU Member States, modernizing and using administrative data for statistics, and usage of new technologies in data collection.
Finally, the CoDGs commanded different organisations for their support in strengthening the statistics development in Africa and the African Statistical System (AfSS) capacities – the World Bank through the Program of Improvement of Statistics in Africa and the implementation of SHaSA 2 at national, regional and continental levels, the European Union through the Pan African Statistics Programme II (PAS II), PARIS 21 for its institutional capacity building support, and Statistics Sweden and Statistics Norway for their support on strengthening migration statistics. The CoDGs also requested the AUC to proceed to a mapping of partners’ support with a highlight on the type of support provided, and the domains covered for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
The 17th CoDGs will be held in Banjul, The Gambia in the end of 2023.
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