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Data collection and record keeping essential for national development

Nov 23, 2016, 9:33 AM

It looks extremely good that Africa is placing emphasis on data collection and statistics to the point that the continent has set aside November 18 as Africa Statistics Day, to be celebrated each year by all African countries.

This line of direction makes sense since it has somehow been realised that data collection and statistical information is given less attention and importance in Africa.

Yet this very aspect of life in any field or society contributes greatly to the development of that society or domain. This is so because statistics give a trend in what has happened and can be useful in making predictions on what may happen in the future.

In the context of The Gambia, putting statistical data together for up-to-date information, analysis and possible predictions is a challenge that has been a thorn in the flesh of our statistical system.

While Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) may be trying its utmost best to collect and disseminate accurate data and statistical information, many institutions, organisations, entities, departments, agencies and other segments of our society are lagging far behind in realising the essence of statistical information and or putting data together for better planning, policy formulation and national development.

In his statement marking African Statistics Day, celebrated every year on 8 November,  and this year on the selected  theme: ‘Strengthening Economic Statistics for Regional Integration, Structural Transformation, and Sustainable Development’, The Gambia’s minister of Finance and Economic Affairs said: “Every one of us is aware that it is the responsibilities of the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) to disseminate official statistics at all levels of the Government as these data are used for the formulation of different development plans and strategies.

“In fulfilling this responsibility GBoS works closely with both local and international stakeholders, knowing that better strategies are formed upon availability of reliable and timely data.

“I therefore urge all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the private sector, development partners, and the general public to use statistics in planning, monitoring and evaluation of different social and economic development policies in their respective areas and fields.”

This call by the finance minister hammers the fact that all hands are needed on deck as our nation trudges through the path of development on the guide of data collection and statistical information.

This is important for several reasons especially with regard to the role statistics play in government and administrations and in the fields of business, economics, accounting, banking, astronomy, and the natural and social sciences.

Statistics are really important in helping us make informed decisions on matters arising from medical studies, disease predictions, weather forecasts, emergency preparedness, consumer goods, price rise and inflation, genetics, and political campaigns.

So let’s do well to adhere to data collection and disseminating accurate statistical information for better planning, policy formulation and national development.

“A strengthened and well-coordinated National Statistical System, equipped with modern technologies, will help to improve data collection, processing, analysis and dissemination”.

Hon. Abdou Kolley