Establishment of the Statistics Division
1. Maputo structure did not create positions of statisticians within AUC. In 2005, noting the importance of timely and comparable statistics in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of continental integration programmes, the AUC set up a Statistics Unit within its Department for Economic Affairs with the mandate to provide reliable economic and social data that could serve, among other things, as quality scientific research.
2. In 2010, the Statistics Unit transformed into a Division in order for it to effectively play its role in the implementation of the important strategic documents which include the Africa Charter on Statistics (ACS) and the Strategy for the Harmonisation of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA).
3. As a way forward, we suggest the acceleration of the recruitment of staff in order for it to be operational and play its role in the development and coordination of statistical activities in the continent.
The Statistics Division has the following objectives:
Statistical harmonization and Coordination in Africa
4. The African integration agenda of the Continent, which the AU Commission has embarked upon for some years now, calls for the use of harmonized and reliable statistical data in all areas in order to ensure its effective implementation. To this end, the AU Commission committed itself to playing an active and catalyst role in the area of statistics in order to produce harmonized and comparable statistics in time and in space so as to backstop the realization of the African Economic Community.
5. However, on the continent, there are a number of challenges facing the statistical development and dissemination. This is due to a number of impediments including, among others, inadequate resources, lack of institutional framework, inadequate coordination of statistical activities and dissemination tools. Definitely, the production and utilisation of African statistics calls not only for the adoption of harmonized and standardized definitions and concepts; but also the utilisation of a common methodology for statistical production and appropriate technological solutions for the management and dissemination of statistical data and information.
6. For these reasons, many initiatives were carried out by the Department which include: (i) the establishment of the Statistics Division with the creation additional positions; (ii) the adoption and implementation of an African Charter on Statistics; (iii) the adoption and implementation the Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA); (iv) the establishment of the AfricaInfo database; and African Statistical Yearbook (ASY) and Joint Publication with Eurostat.
Adoption and implementation of the African Charter on Statistics
7. In order to overcome challenges facing the development and the coordination of statistical activities in the continent, under the leadership of the Statistics Division of AUC, an African Charter on Statistics was developed involving all statistical organizations on the continent and partners. The draft charter was validated by the Committee of Directors-Generals of National Statistics Offices in June 2007 in Giseny, Rwanda. After its consideration by the joint AU/ECA Conference of African Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in April 2008, it was validated by Conference of African Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General in November 2008 in Kigali, Rwanda. The draft Charter was finally submitted to the Executive Council which considered before its adoption by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in February 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The African Charter on Statistics pursues, inter alia, the following objectives:
a) Serve as policy framework and advocacy tool for the development of statistics in Africa;
b) To ensure improved quality and comparability of the statistics;
c) Strengthen the coordination of statistical activities and facilitate the harmonisation of development partners' interventions in order to avoid duplications in the implementation of statistical programmes;
d) Promote compliance with the fundamental principles of public statistics in Africa and a culture of evidence-based policymaking; and
e) Build up the institutional capacity of African statistical authorities by ensuring their autonomy in operations, while paying attention to adequacy of human, material and financial resources.
8. As of July 2011, the African Charter on Statistics was signed by 20 Member States and ratified by only 3 of them. It will enter into force after 15 Member States have signed and ratified it, and have deposited the instruments of ratification at the Commission.
9. With support from the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21), an Advocacy Strategy for the Ratification of the Charter and its Appropriation by Member States was developed. The document, among others, examines the consequences of the Charter ratification and Treaties’ ratification process in 17 Members States. It then proposes a strategy articulated around 3 expected results, namely: (1) the African Charter on Statistics is signed and ratified by as many Member States as possible and enters into force by 1 January 2012; (2) the Charter is widely disseminated; and (3) Priority activities are implemented before launching the implementation of the Charter.
10. PARIS21 also helped develop two advocacy documents: one distributed to Ministers during the joint Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development held in March 2010 in Lilongwe, Malawi; and another titled ‘The Charter in Seven Questions’ for the general public.
11. The World Bank also provided support to the Statistics Division in order to prepare guidelines for the implementation of the Charter’s principles; a baseline report on the implementation of the Charter’s principles; and train statisticians on specific issues relating to the Charter’s principles.
12. As a way forward for the implementation of the Charter, with the Grant from World Bank, the Division will finalize the following activities in 2011:
a) Presentation and advocacy for the signing and ratification of the charter in some selected countries;
b) Training of resource persons on specific issues relating to the Charter’s principles;
c) Finalization of the guidelines for the implementation of the Charter’s principles; and
d) Finalization of the baseline report on the implementation of the Charter’s principles.
13. The Division will conduct Statistical Peer Review (SPR) exercises in two countries, prepare and disseminate the reports.
Adoption and implementation of Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA)
14. In order to support the African integration agenda and enhanced coordination and collaboration with National Statistical Offices (NSOs), Regional and continental statistical organizations as well as development partners, the Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA) was developed. The main purpose of the SHaSA is to enable the ASS to generate timely, reliable and harmonized statistical information, covering all aspects of political, economic, social and cultural integration for Africa. It intends to contribute to the attainment of the continental integration agenda which is a pivotal goal of African Heads of State and Government. By also articulating a strategy, vision, objectives and initiatives, as well as a mechanism for implementation, monitoring and evaluation, the document will serve as a valuable tool to statistical users including practitioners, policy and decision makers, institutions for harmonized planning, projection, and programming for accelerated regional integration and development.
15. After its adoption by the Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in March 2010 in held Malawi and by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2010 held in Kampala, the SHaSA was launched during the meeting of Directors-General of National Statistical Offices in December 2010 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
16. An action plan for the implementation of the SHaSA was developed and the Division is already tackling its part of the implementation of the strategy (AfDB and ECA will be implementing other parts of the strategy). Statistical sectors supposed to be addressed by the Commission under the SHaSA include: BoP statistics, Governance, Peace and Security (GPS) statistics, and Science, Technology and Education (STE) statistics.
17. The Division organised the first meeting of the Specialized Technical Group (STG) on Balance of Payment (BoP) Statistics was organized on 5-6 July 2010 in Port Louis, Mauritius. The objective of the group is among others to make concrete proposals for the development and harmonization of BoP statistics, including international merchandise trade statistics (IMTS), statistics on external position, etc. The first STG meeting focused on IMTS and drafted the Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the group. It discussed obstacles to the development and harmonization of IMTS, and proposed appropriate recommendations to address them. Specifically, it:
a) Provided a forum of exchange for statisticians at National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and Central Banks (CBs);
b) Discussed international concepts, definitions and practices (both international and national) in the area of IMTS compilation; and
c) Finalized the ToRs of the technical group.
18. The second meeting of this Specialized Technical Group (STG) on Trade statistics will be held in October 2011 in order to discuss among other things:
a) To collect foreign trade statistics data that will be used for producing the Compendium; and
b) To discuss the difficulties in the compilation of trade statistics including unregistered cross-border trade and smuggled goods, and how to capture them, compilation of accurate data on quantities; collection of quality information of exports and imports of goods;
c) To come up with a detailed action plan for the development and harmonization of International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS).
19. The Division has already organized a meeting on BoP statistics and aims at organizing 2 such meetings each year starting from 2012. The Division will also be organizing 2 meetings each on the development and harmonization of GPS and STE statistics starting from 2012.
African Statistical Yearbook (ASY) and AU Database
20. Since 2008, the AUC has been jointly producing an African Statistical Yearbook with UNECA and AfDB. The 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 ASY are available on AUC website. In the framework of the publication of the 2012 statistics yearbook, joint questionnaire was sent to Member states in order to collect statistics data.
21. Preparation for the production of the 2012 ASY is underway with the elaboration of a draft working program. A Meeting was held to discuss the work program; the allocation of tasks and responsibilities among the three institutions; statistical data that have already been collected; and the preparation of the meeting of data correspondents in January 2012.
22. Since the beginning of 2010, the African Union Commission (AUC), together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is developing AfricaInfo which aims to aims at responding to data and statistical needs of the African Union, its organs, its Member States as well as all interested actors/parties across Africa. It will provide tools for the monitoring of commitments made by governments in the implementation of national, regional and continental decisions and policies. The aim of the AfricaInfo initiative is to support evidence-based policy formulation and program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation by making available timely and accurate statistical data covering all areas of African integration and development.
23. The Working Group for the establishment of AfricaInfo is composed of representatives from AU departments, UNECA and AfDB. Its ToR has been prepared and discussed. A training session was organized to help the focal point in constructing indicators for their respective department. Three Meetings of the Working Group were held to discuss the planning process for the establishment of AfricaInfo database. The results of these meetings are: (1) agreed timetable, budget and terms of reference (ToRs) of AfricaInfo Task Force and Working Group; (2) draft list of sectors and indicators. UNICEF seconded an expert to support AUC in managing AfricaInfo database for a period of six (6) months. The expert prepared a prototype of AfricaInfo.
24. In 2011, the Division organized a meeting in Nazareth with various Departments and agreed on indicators and uploaded them in the database. In March 2011, after endorsing the AfricaInfo imitative the joint AU/ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development passed Resolution 882 (XLIV) calling upon … the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund to strengthen their collaboration for the operationalization of the AfricaInfo initiative to ensure that it has a continental dimension, and produce a plan for its implementation (13). The AUC, UNICEF, UNECA and AfDB organized a meeting in Tunis in July 2011 and came out with a five year strategic Action Plan from 2011 to 2015.
As a way forward, the Division is working with its partners in order to implement activities contented in the 2011-2015 Action Plan for the operationalization of AfricaInfo.
Cooperation with EUROSTAT
25. The Statistics Division developed with the support of Eurostat in 2010 an African Union Commission Information System (AUCIS). Eurostat seconded a staff to the Division worked on the conceptualization of the African Union Commission Information System (AUCIS). His work included the identification of strength and weaknesses as well as opportunities and risk, and the proposition of next steps to develop and establish AUCIS. The aim of AUCIS is to improve and enhance the visibility and usability of data managed by the AUSTAT by providing an interface that provides high-quality statistical information service.
26. In addition, in the framework of the EU-Africa strategy, the AUSTAT and EUROSTAT prepared two jointly Statistics in Focus. The first edition was produced in 2009 on Africa-EU economic indicators, trade and investment. The second edition was published in December 2010. In 2012, the two organizations are preparing a joint statistical yearbook.
27. In order to strengthen the cooperation between the two institutions, Eurostat agreed to second an officer every year to support the Statistics Division in the implementation of SHaSA and the African Charter on Statistics.