By the numbers
“Our data has to be accurate, comprehensive and transparent, because countries look at these statistics to assess Egypt’s investment potential and where opportunities are,” said Major General Abou Bakr El Gendy, chairman of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, better known as CAPMAS. He spoke at a Jan. 17 meeting of the AmCham Marketing Committee on “The Future of the Market Research Industry in Egypt.”
To make sure its numbers are credible, CAPMAS belongs to the United Nations Statistical Commission. Each year, the commission audits member agencies based on the previous year’s recommendations and issues new ones for the coming year. “All our forms and breakdowns are discussed and updated by the U.N. committee,” said Gendy. He also pointed out that CAPMAS relies almost entirely on government data to create its reports, with the surveys it conducts accounting for just 15 percent of them.
Egypt’s biggest challenge, statistically speaking, is its booming population, said Gendy. “This problem is bigger than terrorism attacks or economic slowdown.” In 2014, Egypt’s net population growth was 2.1 million. He compared this exponential increase to a deadly virus that gets little attention. “You can’t cure the virus if you don’t acknowledge that you have it,” he said. “No matter how many projects we implement or development projects we put forth, it will not be enough. It is a disaster, period.”
The second most important statistic that CAPMAS generates is the rate of inflation. The agency tracks the prices of 1,000 products in 15,000 outlets every week to come up with the CPI figure published in its monthly report. “We have to be really accurate with this stat in particular, because it affects Central Bank policy,” he said.