Africa: Uneca Launches Price Watch Centre for Africa

Addis Ababa — The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) launched a first-of-its-kind continental tool offers a unique view of price variations in African countries, regional economic communities and the continent.

The initiative intended to bring the prices and exchange rates of all African countries into one platform readily accessible to citizens, decision makers and other stakeholders.

The platform will involve monthly, quarterly and annual analyses of inflation, it was indicated.

During the virtual launch, UNECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe said the role of national statistics offices and national revenue authorities in ensuring the platform has timely, accurate and up-to-date data will be crucial.

Lack of price data to enable monitor, analyze and manage economies through informed policy decisions has often led to civil unrests, she stated.

Vice President of Ghana, Mahamudu Bawumia on his part said "this one-stop-shop for finding data" will go a long way to "increase ECA's relevance in Africa."

"We need data on price movements to gauge how changes in consumer prices alone may be affecting the trends in income distribution, poverty levels and inequalities," Bawumia added.

Opening the doors to continental free trade, price level data will enable a cross country comparisons, understanding of regional markets and the competitiveness of producers across Africa, he pointed out.

He urged African governments to invest in ICT infrastructure and digital data collection tools; and called on heads of national statistical offices to work with the ECA in transforming the continental statistical systems.

Cameroon's Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Ousmane Mey stresses the need to strengthen the relationships between national information and statistics institutions and the UNECA to evaluate and monitor public policy.

South Africa's Minster of Finance, Tito Titus Mboweni, said "data helps political leadership understand the difference between what they might wish to have and what the reality on the gourds is."

Timely and reliable data on prices and movements of goods and services enable to know they are having macroeconomic convergence or divergence and to move towards actualizing the African Continental Free Trade Area, he added.

The virtual launch was attended by several ministers of finance and economic development and representatives of national statistics offices from across Africa.

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