African Statistics Day: Message from the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and Planning Anne Waiguru, OGW

CS Ann Waiguru.fwToday all National Statistics Offices across Africa celebrate the 14th African Statistics Day whose theme is Open Data for Accountability and Inclusiveness. This celebration is now entrenched in many African countries as an annual event. The main objective of today’s celebrations as envisaged in this year’s theme is to raise awareness among the public about the important role played by statistics in all aspects of social and economic development.
This awareness provides an opportunity to advocate for systematic and increased use of statistics for evidence-based decision making, with a view of enhancing the relevance of statistics and mainstreaming statistics into national and county development plans.Statistics are also vital in monitoring and evaluating the progress of attainment of vision 2030, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as informing on the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In the last two decades in Kenya, an increasing number of public-sector organizations have embraced open data as a way to boost visibility into government decisionmaking and performance. 

The idea has expanded from focusing on government transparency as an end in itself to the realization it can yield economic and social value across a much wider spectrum. It has shifted from publishing raw datasets to making this information more accessible and understandable to more people.

Opening up government data and information are key foundations to enabling engagement with citizens by using new technologies to connect the public to government and to one another. Making government data and information available online invites individuals and organizations to transform data and information into tools and applications that help individuals,institutions and communities; and to promote partnerships with government to create innovative solutions to the opportunities and challenges faced by citizens.
Open data therefore can improve inclusiveness by giving citizens the information they need to participate in public decision-making. The Guidelines on Open Government Data and Services stress that open data provide the foundation to enable citizens to better understand the way their Government works, how tax revenue is spent, and the decision-making process behind the allocation of national and county governments budgets. By involving citizens in decision-making, Governments can achieve more efficient and equitable outcomes. The right to access public information is the prerequisite to exercising rights and mechanisms of participation. It is necessary, therefore, to remove barriers hindering access to information in order for political participation to be carried out by informed citizens.

The theme for this year’s African Statistics Day fosters increased access to data, that is,data is freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone. This data that is made available to all must adhere to the quality standards as guided by the United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics including professionalism, impartiality, relevance and timeliness. This is what sets KNBS apart in production of quality statistics that meet the tests of practical utility. I have full confidence in the statistics produced by the Bureau.We appreciate the initiatives and efforts the Bureau has undertaken to improve open access to data. Most aggregated data is now freely available to the public in open portals at the national level and on the KNBS website.

A number of open portals run by international agencies such as the United Nations, African Development Bank, Food and Agriculture organization, the World Bank are accessible greatly enhancing data access. Increased access to this information makes Kenya a credible country in attracting investment and accessing credit from international markets.

The Government, through my Ministry,remains committed to supporting funding of statistical activities undertaken by the Bureau and implementation of open data initiative at county level. We acknowledge technical and financial support received from our Development Partners and all stakeholders in data provision and dissemination. I appreciate KNBS staff for their commitment in ensuring the provision of credible statistics.I join the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and call upon all stakeholders,development partners and the general public to come together and join us in celebrating
this year’s African Statistics Day.

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