Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has urged African governments to invest in ICT infrastructure and digital data collection tools to help transform their respective national statistical offices and economies.
Speaking during the virtual launch of the Economic Commission for Africa's (ECA) Price Watch Centre for Africa, Dr. Bawumia stressed that relying on credible data from African economies will be key to realising the objectives of the Africa Price Watch Centre, which among other thing, seeks to bring data on all African economies on one platform for comparitive analysis on price movements and other economic indicators.
To be able to provide timely and accurate data to the platform, Dr. Bawumia, in his key note address, told African finance ministers and other stakeholders who had converged online that, it is important for governments to invest in digital data gathering.
"Governments must invest in ICT infrastructure and the digital data collection tools," Dr. Bawumia said.
"I call upon the heads of national statistical office gathered through this virtual medium to work with ECA in transforming their national statistical systems."
The Vice President identified data gaps on many African economies and inconsistency in data definition and methodology as difficulties in making comparative analysis on African economies and price movements of goods and services, which he hoped the initiative will help address.
"The availability of timely data from a single aggregator source should help us overcome data gaps, and the lack of consistency in data definition and methodology that often characterize African statistics."
"We need data on price movements to gauge how changes in consumer and factor prices alone may be affecting the trends in income redistribution, poverty levels and inequalities, especially among the army of those who live on retirement incomes."
"As we open the doors of continental free trade, price level data is important for cross country comparisons in understanding regional markets and the competitiveness of producers across the continent."
To enhance the value of continent wide price movement data, Dr. Bawumia called for data collection and approaches to data computation to be comparable and relevant.
"With Continental Free Trade and the march towards the Africa we want, more and more, there is the need to further streamline data collection on African economies for monitoring, evaluation and planning purposes. This underlines the urgent need for effective collaboration between the ECA, AfDB to building the vital socio-economic statistics for Africa."
"It is our hope that the ECA will work with national statistical institutions to overcome these disparities by agreeing on common methdological guidelines, benchmarks and capacity building," Dr. Bawumia added.
Following the successful launch of the Africa Price Water Watch Center and its platform (website), Vice President Bawumia expressed satisfaction and urged member states to cooperate with the ECA to provide timely data to the platform.
"It is a rich data portal that we have been presented with for analysis. We need to cooperate with ECAs so that we can present our data on a timely basis," he said.