The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has been pushing to strengthen Africa’s capacity towards enhanced utilization of mobile technologies to collect data for effective policy and decision making.

Though there has been progress in statistical capacity on the African continent, the statistical systems in Africa still cannot meet demands placed on theme due to multi-faceted problems.

UNECA says though information and communication technology (ICT) has affected every aspect of human life including data collection, Africa is still facing data collection challenge due to low technology base and reliance on paper-based method.

Organized by the UNECA, a four-day regional conference that deliberates on the use of mobile technology for statistical processes in Africa kicked off on Tuesday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Preceded by a workshop, the regional conference is part of the programmed activities by UNECA of the development account (DA) project on the use of mobile technology for statistical data collection.

Speaking at the opening of the Workshop at UN Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Dozie Ezigbalike, Chief Data Technology Section of the African Center for Statistics at UNECA, noted that the Development Account (DA) project has been designed to address one of the perennial problems of data collection.

He also stated that almost all African statistical offices have some experience with using mobile devices in their statistical processes, with the Cape Verde census being the most acclaimed use so far.

Realizing the advantages of using mobile technology for data collection and statistical production, UNECA has implemented a series of pilot projects on strengthening the capacity of African countries to use mobile technologies to collect data for effective policy and decision making.

The project is a parallel funded implementation of a Development Account (DA) project involving five countries in Phase I, and an additional five in Phase II.

The five selected pilot countries are distributed in the five sub-region of Africa; the Gambia from West Africa, Kenya from East Africa, Tunisia from North Africa, Cameroon from Central Africa and Zimbabwe from Southern Africa. Ethiopia was added to phase I with the generous contribution of the Irish government, according to UNECA.

The main objective of the DA project is to improve the capacity of countries in using mobile technology to make statistical data available and accessible to support evidence-based policy making, according to UNECA.

The conference proceedings will be compiled into a set of guidelines for countries to adopt when introducing mobile technologies in statistical processes, said UNECA.