Our year-long col­lab­o­ra­tion with the rest of Africa

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Pali Le­hohla Dr Pali Le­hohla is South Africa’s Statis­ti­cianGen­eral and head of Sta­tis­tics South Africa.

We strad­dle the con­ti­nent from the south to the east and west and through the Africa Sym­posia for Sta­tis­ti­cal De­vel­op­ment (ASSD).

AS WE END the Africa Month of May and tran­sit into the Youth Month of June, at Stat­stics SA the ma­chin­ery has been hum­ming like clock­work, with a spe­cial fo­cus on the con­ti­nent where we have cease­lessly con­tin­ued to par­tic­i­pate at a bi­lat­eral level, par­tic­u­larly and more gen­er­ally in a mul­ti­lat­eral ap­proach.

We have demon­strated that not only sta­tis­tics count, but man­age­ment does too.

A south-south col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach has proven to be the most ef­fec­tive and one which yields re­sults. This ar­ti­cle is about the col­lab­o­ra­tive work that Stats SA has been en­gaged in across the con­ti­nent in the last twelve months.

In July 2016 we paid trib­ute to the head of sta­tis­tics Cabo Verde, who stepped down.

He had made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the global sta­tis­tics sys­tem by host­ing the Praia City Group, which is the only city group Africa has in the UN Sta­tis­tics Com­mis­sion.

The fo­cus of this group is on gover­nance, peace and se­cu­rity sta­tis­tics. These sta­tis­tics are now part of the rubric of the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDG).

An­to­nio Duarte has been an el­e­gant stew­ard of our African agenda and we are very pleased with his achieve­ments and recog­nise them as he steps down. South Africa is a mem­ber of the Praia City Group.

In Au­gust of 2016, Risenga Maluleke and I rep­re­sented South Africa at the SDG work­shop held by the Tan­za­nia Sta­tis­tics of­fice and one of the cru­cial con­tri­bu­tions was how in South Africa we have suc­ceeded in mak­ing the value of sta­tis­tics vis­i­ble.

Recog­nised glob­ally through a va­ri­ety of dis­sem­i­na­tion strate­gies we con­tinue to make value of sta­tis­tics vis­i­ble and its con­tent ac­ces­si­ble. We got ac­co­lades all round for im­ple­ment­ing these in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions and as a con­se­quence next week we shall be host­ing The Gam­bia statis­ti­cians to share lessons on dis­sem­i­na­tion.

To­wards the mid­dle of Septem­ber 2016 we con­vened African statis­ti­cians to for­mu­late mea­sure­ment re­quire­ments for Agenda 2063.

This we did at the be­hest of the then chair­per­son of the African Union Com­mis­sion. She sought to see how as Africans the SDGs com­ple­mented Agenda 2063 the Africa we want. Out of this re­quest we have con­cluded tech­nol­ogy and re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion strate­gies for Africa’s sta­tis­tics sys­tems. These build on a costed sta­tis­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment strat­egy that as Africans we con­cluded in 2015.

All these ef­forts point to the fact that Africa is at work to align it­self to solve its prob­lems and also align it­self to the in­ter­na­tional agenda.

In Septem­ber as part of our con­tri­bu­tion to mea­sure­ment we show­cased how we mea­sure poverty on the mar­gins of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly. Min­is­ter Radebe hosted a spe­cial side event en­ti­tled “Mea­sur­ing and Tack­ling Poverty in All Its Di­men­sions” on be­half of the Mul­ti­di­men­sional Poverty Peer Net­work on the mar­gins of the 71st UN Gen­eral Assem­bly.

In ad­dress­ing the many dig­ni­taries the min­is­ter re­minded us by quot­ing from Nel­son Man­dela that “As long as poverty, in­jus­tice and gross in­equal­ity per­sists in this world, none of us can truly rest!”

As statis­ti­cians we are not only con­cerned by churn­ing num­bers but gover­nance is also piv­otal to our en­ter­prise and over the last four years we have had clean au­dits. We thus at­tracted other of­fices in the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity re­gion. Namibia, Botswana and Zim­babwe vis­ited our shores to bench­mark them­selves against our prac­tices.

One of the pre­mier sys­tems we de­vel­oped be­ing ap­plied across the gov­ern­ment, and par­tic­u­larly Namibia, was in­ter­ested in is the In­voice Track­ing Sys­tem (ITS).

Since 2009, we have suc­cess­fully paid clients in less than thirty days. The strat­egy for im­ple­ment­ing ITS in­cluded, amongst other things, es­tab­lish­ing a cred­i­tor’s pay­ment unit with an ob­jec­tive of im­prov­ing com­pli­ance and re­la­tions with cred­i­tors.

Bench­mark

Be­yond the ITS the del­e­ga­tion from Sta­tis­tics Botswana that we hosted from Oc­to­ber 12 to 14, 2016, wanted to bench­mark cor­po­rate ser­vices pro­cesses and sys­tems in the ar­eas of hu­man re­sources man­age­ment, fi­nance, pro­cure­ment and in­ter­nal au­dit.

Through our project man­age­ment pro­cesses and the es­tab­lish­ment of the pro­gramme of­fice we were able to demon­strate how project man­age­ment pro­cesses for fi­nance, au­dit, and pro­cure­ment are ex­e­cuted, as well as how the im­ple­men­ta­tion of projects by core busi­ness, in­ter­nal au­dit­ing and con­trols, and risk man­age­ment are led.

More im­por­tantly, our col­leagues from Zim­babwe were in­ter­ested in many other gover­nance is­sues and pro­mo­tion of use of sta­tis­tics.

The 13 mem­ber-del­e­ga­tion from Zim­babwe on this study visit from Novem­ber 18 to 19, 2016, had the main pur­pose of un­der­stand­ing how Sta­tis­tics South Africa has pro­moted ac­cess to data; reg­u­lated pol­icy pro­tec­tion; and safe­guarded sur­vey and cen­sus data con­fi­den­tial­ity.

The head of the del­e­ga­tion, Kumbi­rai Hodzi, the deputy at­tor­ney-gen­eral, spoke of the fact that the coun­try is in the process of un­der­tak­ing var­i­ous pol­icy re­forms in an at­tempt to stim­u­late eco­nomic re­cov­ery and re-en­gage with in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment part­ners.

The gov­ern­ment has ac­knowl­edged the im­por­tance of sta­tis­tics in re­build­ing the coun­try, and is un­der­tak­ing a se­ries of study tours to var­i­ous coun­tries as they seek clar­ity of pur­pose.

We strad­dle the con­ti­nent from the south to the east and west and through the Africa Sym­posia for Sta­tis­ti­cal De­vel­op­ment (ASSD).

Sta­tis­tics South Africa is sec­re­tar­iat to the ASSD. We headed north to Tu­nis for the 12th in­stal­ment of the ASSD in Novem­ber last year.

The fo­cus was on “strength­en­ing ba­sic eco­nomic sta­tis­tics for the com­pi­la­tion of na­tional ac­counts in Africa”. The na­tional ac­counts phase hap­pens par­al­lel to prepa­ra­tions for the 2020 Round of Pop­u­la­tion and Hous­ing Cen­suses, which should see in­creased use of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy.

His­toric

In Jan­uary we hosted the very first his­toric UN World Data Fo­rum (UNWDF), which ush­ered in a new era in mea­sure­ment. We em­pha­sised that “Sta­tis­tics is a con­duit of trust. It is the most pub­licly trans­acted cur­rency and there­fore has to im­bue trust.” The data land­scape will change for­ever after this his­toric event. In many ways the first ever UNWDF was ex­pected to be a gov­ern­ing force for the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion.

From Fe­bru­ary 27 to March 3, 2017, Sta­tis­tics South Africa hosted Dr Tamer Tan­do­gan, a con­sul­tant from an in­ter­na­tional group of con­sul­tants com­mis­sioned by the African De­vel­op­ment Bank.

The study fo­cused mainly on in­dus­trial sta­tis­tics ar­eas and the sta­tis­ti­cal busi­ness reg­is­ter, cou­pled with qual­ity, sur­vey method­ol­ogy, train­ing, plan­ning, bud­get­ing and other eco­nomic sta­tis­tics top­ics.

In March I joined the global com­mu­nity of statis­ti­cians at the 48th Ses­sion of the UN Sta­tis­ti­cal Com­mis­sion, held in New York. The theme for the ses­sion was “Cel­e­brat­ing 70 years of global sta­tis­tics”.

I was one of the two who de­liv­ered key note ad­dresses on this aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion. My point was that “Sta­tis­tics is a con­duit of trust. Only the trusted are its ste­wards and cus­to­di­ans.”

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Hawk­ers sell “Man­dela” badges. Nel­son Man­dela once said: “As long as poverty, in­jus­tice and gross in­equal­ity per­sists in this world, none of us can truly rest!”

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