Theme: “Modernizing National Statistical Systems to Provide Data and Statistics to Support Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa”


                                                                                         Macdonald George Obudho, MBS

Today, Kenya joins other African countries in celebrating the African Statistics Day in recognition of the need for quality statistics to inform decision making and debate that support the development agenda. The African Statistics Day is an annual fete celebrated on 18th November every year to raise public awareness of the critical role that statistics play in all aspects of social and economic life.

This year’s theme is in tandem with that of the African Union for the year 2020, “Silencing the guns: Creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development”. The theme was chosen to raise awareness among decision-makers, technical and ­financial partners, data producers, researchers and the general public about the critical importance of governance and socioeconomic statistics in achieving the goal of a conflict-free Africa. Peace, security and socioeconomic development must be pursued simultaneously to make “silencing the guns” a reality across the continent. The theme is also hinged on the importance of improving the National Statistical Systems (NSS) to drive the development agenda through evidence-based decision making and policy formulation.

Globally, it is acknowledged that peace and development are intertwined. In recognition of this fact, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. The resolution identified specific targets for each goal to be achieved by 2030 as a milestone for global economic development. For each target, indicators were identified to be used in measuring its progress. The national statistical offices are therefore expected to be at the forefront of making the requisite data more available and easily understood to aid tracking and visualization of progress towards the goals. It is against this background that the discussion on modernization of the NSS is not only relevant but timely.

In Kenya, the Government, through the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics is in the process of finalizing the Kenya Strategy for the Development of Statistics (KSDS) which will provide a stratagem for developing statistical capacity across the entire NSS that include county governments. In summary, KSDS outlines four (4) strategic focus areas namely; Effective National Statistical System, Improvement of Data quality, Development/Strengthening of Infrastructure for Statistics Production, and Statistical Advocacy.

Under the fourth Schedule of our Constitution, both the National and County governments have a role to play in generating statistics for planning purposes. In particular, the national government has the responsibility of producing and managing statistics on population, the economy and society at the national level. At this stage of constitutional implementation, and with the devolution of service provision to county level, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) which is the Principal Government Agency mandated to: collect, compile, analyze, publish and disseminate socio-economic and demographic statistical information for public use, has a key role to play in providing technical advice in provision of quality statistics.

We hasten to add, that quality statistics are also required for monitoring the country’s economic blueprint Vision 2030 and the transformative Big 4 development Agenda alongside other internationally agreed programmes such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa’s Agenda 2063 and other policy documents. Mobilization of data and subsequent analysis to monitor progress in achieving the development agenda requires robust strategies to marshal the required information through the National Statistical System.

The contribution of statistics to peace goes beyond counting the sorrows caused by conflict. Statistics can be used to create the conditions that are conductive to Africa’s development. I am delighted to note that KNBS collects statistics on governance, peace and security as well as on socio-economic characteristics and disseminates them annually through Economic Survey and Statistical Abstract publications.

Governance statistics are fundamental in ensuring that the relationship between the state and its people is inclusive, transparent and accountable. Indeed, they contribute in the measurement and realization of human rights. In addition, they help in identifying groups and sub-groups in the population that are most affected by the dysfunctions of governance systems, with a view of putting in place appropriately targeted policies. The statistics also contribute in preventing and managing conflict, when used as early warning systems; and can as well help to build peace, by periodically informing on state-society relations, which lie at the center of sustainable peace. On the other hand, socio-economic statistics are essential to understanding the welfare of citizens and are therefore useful in planning and in policy design. Further, statistics also help to capture the impact of digitization and globalization on production, consumption, employment, investment and financial flows.

In the present day, there is need to modernize the systems for data mobilization with a view to improving on timeliness and reducing cost of statistical production. In the case of Kenya, KNBS plans to enhance use of mobile data for social change and explore harnessing of the Big Data and other non-traditional data sources for official statistics. This is expected to facilitate efficient use of resources in statistical production and also embracing use of modern methodologies in statistical production.

One of the key strategies that the Bureau is employing is modernization of data collection methods. This is partly achieved by leveraging on enhanced use of Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) techniques, which enable faster release of the results. For example, in 2019 the Kenya Population and Housing Census was conducted using CAPI techniques resulting in a significant improvement in timeliness of dissemination of the census results. In addition, KNBS has of late adopted use of Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the Bureau, in collaboration with other institutions has been exploring use of alternative sources and techniques for production of official statistics.

Article  35 of the Constitution of Kenya Chapter gives every citizen the right of access to information held by the State. KNBS has put in place a data dissemination policy and measures to guide on how citizens will access the official statistical information. Among such measures is setting up data dissemination platforms to accommodate all types of data users. This also includes access to other data and information such as geo-spatial data. To keep to our commitment of confidentiality to our esteemed data producers, the information and data are always anonymized.

As we celebrate this day, I appeal to all our data providers to cooperate with the Bureau in providing accurate and reliable information and data on governance, peace and security. I reiterate our commitment in keeping with the spirit of Statistics Act that guarantees confidentiality of the information provided. We are grateful to the Government for the continued support in ensuring that the rights of all citizens are guarded and for availing funds to ensure sustainability and development. It is our hope that marking this day provides an avenue for awareness creation on the critical role played by statistics in our everyday lives.

In the meantime, KNBS will endeavor to keep you informed through statistical reports available on our website, that is regularly updated. This is in line with this year’s theme: “Modernizing national statistical systems to provide data and statistics to support sustainable peace and development in Africa”.

Happy African Statistics Day!!