STATISTICIANS ARE THE DRIVING FORCE FOR DEVELOPMENT
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