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Government statisticians must strive to be independent — Dr Chinganya

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Dr Oliver Chinganya

Dr Oliver Chinganya, Director, Africa Centre for Statistics, has encouraged government statisticians to be independent in the performance of their duties.

He said though the activities of statistical organisations were funded by the State, leaders of the institutions should strive to dissociate themselves from political interests.

Speaking at the launch of Amaris Statistical and Research Institute (AmariStat) in Accra, Dr Chinganya noted that political affiliations “take away” the objectivity required in the function of statisticians.

“We should not allow ourselves to be aligned to any political connotations or appointments…What we should be striving for is to be independent as much as possible…Let’s be independent but with enough authority to be able to do our job properly,” he stated.

AmariStat, among other objectives, seeks to offer timely technical support to National Statistical Offices in Anglophone African countries.

The Institute will also “help disseminate data through an open data platform, and provide just-in-time thematic reports to inform policy decisions as needed”.

Dr Chinganya, Chief Statistician at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), stressed the importance of accurate and timely data for governments, businesses, and civil society, and urged experts to tailor information to the needs of clients.

“…You can’t expect the Minister of Finance to read a 44-page document of tax and make a decision and go to Parliament in an hour…He is looking for a one-pager infographic, quick to make decisions and go to Parliament,” he said.

Despite financial challenges, he advised statisticians serving in different nations to continue producing quality work for policy makers, and identify “trusted partners” they could work with.

Dr Chinganya described the establishment of AmariStat as “a significant journey” towards enhancing the quality and reliability of statistical systems across Anglophone African countries.

Calling for more support for statisticians, he cited lack of skilled human resources, low appreciation of the value of statistics, poor data quality, and inadequate ICT infrastructure, as some factors affecting the implementation of statistical programmes.

The Director emphasised investment in education and continuous professional development to help build skilled workforce for statistical services.

He was confident that the Institute would serve as “a beacon of excellence in statistics and economic research and empower a new generation of statisticians, economists, and researchers with the skills and knowledge needed to contribute effectively to national and regional development”.

Making some proposals, Dr Chinganya tasked AmariStat to collaborate with academic and research institutions, adopt modern technology for data collection and analysis, retain talents, and advocate policies that “prioritise statistical capacity building”.

Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician, Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), highlighted some successes and strategies, and called on institutions to improve turnaround time between data collection and dissemination. 

He recommended that National Statistical Agencies analysed issues such as poverty, agriculture, unemployment, and strive to clarify information when data was not being “used properly”.

Dr Emmanuel Fiadzo, Founder, AmariStat, said the Institution would live up to its mission and collaborate with relevant organisations to achieve its mandate.

The launch brought together heads of National Statistical Organisations from countries, including Gambia, Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Source: GNA

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