Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - BUSINESS - PALI LEHOHLA

FOR FIVE years now, statis­ti­cians, the bean coun­ters of na­tions, have been the busy bees of the world.

This mob is mov­ing to close the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Agenda (MDGs) and the Sustainable De­vel­op­ment Agenda (SDGs).

There is no end in sight as this lowly and lit­tle known con­stituency in world af­fairs has be­come a Cinderella of our times. More re­cently they re­mained high fliers.

Statis­ti­cians had been a com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in New York for the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly (UNGA) where sta­tis­tics on poverty was on dis­play with the Ox­ford Poverty and Hu­man De­vel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive (OPHI).

In this space, the heads of state and min­is­ters spoke on mul­ti­di­men­sional poverty in glow­ing terms as a new lens that has opened up their eyes. No­bel Prize win­ner Pro­fes­sor An­gus Deaton said in his key­note ad­dress that this lens was ap­pro­pri­ate for the US where the num­bers of the poor were more than whole­sale pop­u­la­tion in com­plete coun­tries.

No sooner had he said that, the US Bureau of the Cen­sus made waves to OPHI for a cof­fee chat. Spain pledged that it would now use Mul­ti­di­men­sional poverty in­dices to man­age its pol­icy on poverty.

The po­lit­i­cal lan­guage was that trans­parency fa­cil­i­tates ra­tio­nal con­sul­ta­tive pro­cesses and elim­i­nates toxic po­lit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion.

It also en­hances fo­cused unity in ac­tion on what counts.

There is no doubt that the dis­course on SDGs must be on the stage of the tril­lion dol­lars where mean­ing­ful busi­ness and pri­vate sec­tor in­ter­ven­tion par­tic­i­pates in elim­i­nat­ing the scourge and self-in­flicted scan­dal of the 21st cen­tury.

The chal­lenge should move from New York to Davos to mo­bilise the tril­lions nec­es­sary for the im­ple­men­ta­tion.

A week ago, Sta­tis­tics South

Africa (Stats SA) and the Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment hosted the Mul­ti­di­men­sional Poverty Peer Net­work to ad­vance the sci­ence and prac­tice of poverty mea­sure­ment and in­ter­ven­tion strate­gies.

Of no less im­por­tance was the launch of the third re­port of United Na­tions sec­re­tary gen­eral’s In­de­pen­dent Ac­count­abil­ity Panel (IAP) on the pri­vate sec­tor and its role in the health of moth­ers, chil­dren and ado­les­cents.

Fast for­ward to Ad­dis where African statis­ti­cians were dis­cussing, among other things, digi­ti­sa­tion and dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion and the fu­ture of Africa in mea­sure­ment.

In the con­text of the sign­ing of the Africa Con­ti­nen­tal Free Trade Agree­ment, African statis­ti­cians were seized with the In­ter­na­tional Com­par­isons Pro­gramme, which is the largest global mar­ket re­search on global con­sump­tion and ex­pen­di­ture on goods and ser­vices.

From Dubai to Stock­holm, statis­ti­cians are con­sid­er­ing the de­vel­op­ment in­di­ca­tors and their ad­e­quacy.

As a for­mer statis­ti­cian, I can­not but con­firm that we stayed the cause and course in mak­ing sta­tis­tics vis­i­ble to achieve greatness.

I was priv­i­leged to share pleas­antries with the meputy Mayor of Stock­holm, Ann-Ka­trin Ås­lund, at the pres­ti­gious Golden Hall where No­bel Lau­re­ates are hon­oured.

Greatness achieved can only re­main true to form when dis­pensed pru­dently.

Dr Pali Lehohla is the for­mer Statis­ti­cian-Gen­eral of South Africa and for­mer head of Sta­tis­tics South Africa

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