A lack of resources and expertise has been identified as the major obstacle in utilizing timely data for driving policies and promoting African development, according to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a former President of Liberia and member of the Afrobarometer International Advisory Council.
Speaking at the Afrobarometer 10th round of its planning meeting held at the Aqua Safari Resort in Ada, which marked the Pan-African, non-partisan survey research network’s first in-person gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson Sirleaf highlighted the pressing need for timely data in Africa.
She emphasized that as the continent experiences significant economic growth and development, data has become an essential tool for policymakers and development practitioners.
The former President noted that the absence of such data compels African leaders to rely on intuition when making policy decisions, ultimately hampering development. She stressed that Africa needs data to effectively respond to the specific needs of its citizens and to strengthen democratic institutions by ensuring government appointees are held accountable.
To address the challenge of insufficient timely data, Johnson Sirleaf called for the strengthening of national statistics systems and policy think tanks.
She emphasized the importance of investing in data infrastructure and organizing regular capacity-building workshops throughout the continent.
Building technical and mental capacity in data collection, management, and analysis is crucial, she added.
Furthermore, Johnson Sirleaf highlighted the need to prioritize data-driven decision-making and emphasized the importance of conducting intensive public awareness campaigns to underscore the significance of timely data.
Ambassador Perpetua Dufu, the Coordinating Director for Multilateral Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MOFARI), spoke on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, emphasizing the importance of research and development in shaping national policies and achieving flagship programs.
Joseph Asunka, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Afrobarometer, revealed that the organization has reached 41 countries and has plans to expand its coverage. However, political instability in some countries has posed constraints.