African Charter on Statistics: Progress

Published on 26th December 2009

The African Charter on Statistics was adopted on the 3rd February 2009 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The Charter aims to serve as an advocacy tool of statistics development, strengthen the coordination of statistical activities across the continent, promote adherence to international standards and professionalism in statistics, and ensure the production of quality data.

As a legal instrument, all Member States of the African Union should undertake to institute appropriate measures, especially legislative, regulatory and administrative, to ensure that their laws and regulations and the objectives and principles governing statistics at regional level are in conformity with this Charter. So far, ten countries have signed the Charter. By adopting the Charter, our Leaders have pronounced themselves on their commitment to the development of statistics in Africa. There will be need to ensure that all initiatives are within the framework of the Charter to ensure proper coordination and avoid duplication of efforts in implementing of statistics programmes.

In order to achieve the expected results, the adoption of the Charter by Member States needs to be followed by its effective implementation by actors of the African statistical system. It is for this reason that a mechanism for the implementation of the Charter was devised and now that an African strategy for statistics harmonization has been developed.

Indeed, implementation of Africa’s development and integration agenda requires that continental statistics are integrated in the African statistical function. In recent years, the African statistical system has made tremendous efforts in the production of quality statistics to inform public decision-making. However, there is still a huge gap between the supply of statistical information and its demand, which does not facilitate the monitoring of the African development and integration process.

The emergence of consistent and harmonized African statistics remains limited by institutional capacity weaknesses, duplication and dispersion of efforts by our institutions, and lack of adequate resources (both financial and human).

This situation calls for the establishment of a regulatory framework conducive to improved coordination of statistical activities and statistical harmonization that makes data comparable between and among Member Countries. The African Charter on Statistics helps to address this. The challenge facing the statistical function at the African Union is to ensure the availability of harmonized, comparable, reliable and timely statistics in the political, economic, social and cultural areas.

By Dr Maxwell Mkwezelamba, 
AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs.

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