Data are central to inclusive and effective governance. You need
to know where you are starting from, what you are aiming at,
and whether you are getting there in the most efficient manner.
Without data, governments drive blind – policies are misdirected,
and progress on the road to development is stunted and risks
excluding the most vulnerable groups and individuals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated
fundamental data gaps in Africa, notably in relation to health and
civil registration. Poor data coverage of health facilities and health outcomes in
Africa adversely affects the crucial timely production of statistics during health
emergencies, and makes response and recovery efforts more difficult. Closing
the ‘data gap’ is critical if we aim to leave no one behind. If half of the African
population cannot prove who they are, if they are not registered anywhere, how
can they benefit from any public services or exercise any of their rights? According to the
most recent surveys available in Ethiopia, Chad and Zambia, less than 10 percent of children
under the age of had their births registered at the time of the latest survey. In these countries,
and a few others, registration in urban areas was also less than 50 percent.2
At the same time, the African continent has subscribed to a series of important commitments
under the African Union’s Agenda 2063, ‘The Africa We Want’, and the United Nation’s
Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals. Both frameworks are based on a
comprehensive set of targets and indicators for setting objectives and monitoring progress,
and rely strongly on data and statistics for meeting these development objectives.

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