Why We Need an African Partnership for Development Data

Earlier this year,  I published my thoughts on the general direction in which a partnership for development data could take in Africa. While we acknowledge the possibility of a loose flotilla of efforts in the early days of such an effort I believe two critical factors should be kept front-of-mind.

  • We cannot wait for a finalised post-2015 agenda in order to start working towards a data revolution. Efforts must start now.
  • We cannot wait until the agenda is finalised before working towards the realisation of political will in African governments in aid of concrete efforts towards supporting a data revolution in their countries and regional blocs.

Therefore, while I believe a loose-coalition of the willing around the world working towards better quality, more frequent, more transparent data for accountability is necessary it is unlikely serious political commitment in Africa would support any efforts that are not rooted on the existing Africa Governance Platform and the various instruments/treaties in play.

Leave no one behind” is a core principle of the new agenda and part of the DNA on which Agenda 2063 is based. No African country should be left behind in our quest to eradicate poverty and improve the livelihoods of people living in Africa. Sustainable development cannot be achieved when large parts of our populations are left behind. Realising progress in sustainable development is not only about nation states at the macro level but the individuals living in the small communities that form the micro fabric of our nations. Understanding what needs to be measured at the grassroots and modifying our National Statistics Systems to collect this data will require commitment, financing and political support within member states of the African Union. Efforts to achieve this higher level of understanding need to be rational and based on broad consensus at the regional level. If the core effort for a data revolution on the continent is based on a loose grouping that is not aligning efforts with those of the African Statistics System, we may not achieve what we all dream a data revolution could be.

An African Partnership for Development Data is one of the linchpin efforts towards realisation of a data revolution as envisioned by the High Level Panel on Post-2015. Complimenting existing initiatives such as the Strategy for Harmonisation of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA), Statcom-Africa and the African Charter on Statistics, the APDD would support the means of implementation for Africa’s Agenda 2063, the Africa Peer Review Mechanism as well as the post-2015 agenda.

An African Partnership for Development Data would provide a complimentary multi-stakeholder model to the African Statistics System (ASS) through which technology and innovation transfer as well as engagement and participation of African citizens in continental and national initiatives would be strengthened. The partnership’s main goal would be to support the means of implementation for Agenda2063, the APRM and the Post-2015 agenda. It is not an umbrella data coordination effort as that already exists through SHaSA. The partnership is a platform through which stakeholders can collaborate with states to build capacity for executing the mandate of the ASS especially in regard to these key processes, to aggregate data for identifying gaps in their implementation for decision-making and to transfer technology and innovation for more efficient and effective collection, analysis, curation and dissemination of data on development. We expect the work done by the APDD to rely on efforts such as Statcom-Africa’s Working Group on Development Indicators, SHaSA and the Data for African Development Working Group and to have a catalytic effect on the statistics and data landscape in Africa.

As a supporting effort to the means of implementation for these critical strategies on the continent, an African Partnership for Development Data would make it possible for us to make progress towards:

  • Better data: The challenges of data quality on the continent have been widely commented on. There have been efforts on the continent to improve data quality and coordination of National Statistics Offices which are beginning to bear fruit. For instance, there are now more countries with more than two data points for the indicators used to measure development in Africa. Technology and innovation as well as wider participation would make it possible to collect more data against all the indicators within the first year of Agenda2063’s implementation as well as the post-2015 agenda.
  • Better capacity: National Statistics Offices are traditionally under-resourced and in many instances unable to exercise their independence as provided for by Article 3 of the African Charter on Statistics. Leveraging the resources and wisdom of a broader base of stakeholders would be invaluable to achieving stable financing and greater independence of NSOs.
  • Better sub-national implementation:As Africa makes progress towards greater integration, the continent is also making progress towards national decentralisation and local development. Decentralisation is promoting citizens’ participation in governance and development and will play a role in how the people of Africa articulate their priorities and execute these international agreements within their unique contexts. Data is the central ingredient for informed participation without which participation would be ineffective.
  • Integration in Africa. A myriad of efforts are in play at the moment, all of which are international processes with national impact: the implementation of Agenda2063, the post-2015 agenda, the commitments 33 African countries have made under the APRM, the UNFCCC and the long-term development plans in development or various stages of implementation around Africa. The APDD would be a practical step in supporting harmonisation for the African integration agenda and reducing the multiplicity of disjointed efforts related to collection, curating and dissemination of development data by stakeholders working in Africa.

These four reasons, among many more, continue to inform our approach to engagement on data on the continent.

 

This post originally posted at openinstitute.com