Private Portfolio – We need reliable statistics
On Tuesday this week, I was listening to the radio when Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Minister of Finance, was asked how many tax payers there are in Namibia. She said there are 200,000 or perhaps 300,000 registered tax payers in Namibia.
My immediate thought was, “how could she be unable to give a more accurate answer?” After all, if (perhaps) half of our population of (perhaps) 2 million people are unemployed, it would mean that 20% or perhaps 30% of the gainfully employed Namibians are financially carrying the rest of the nation.
My second thought was that this was proof that we are an absolutely fearless nation because the 20% or 30% of the gainfully employed Namibians are doing business within an environment where one of the key factors of running a successful business is missing: Statistics.
Our economic decisions are based on thumb sucking. Our economic predictions are based on thumb sucking. Our critical everyday decisions are based on a thumb suck. Namibia exists on a thumb suck. And not too shabbily either, I may add.
Why are statistics important? Statistics is a science dealing with numerical facts, collected systematically with the purpose of interpretation and study. It is a branch of mathematics which evaluates numeric data.
Understanding statistics makes you a more objective person and increases your ability to generalise about patterns and populations.
From working out the best deals in the supermarket to understanding trends and probabilities that affect decisions in business and politics, people’s ability to interpret data and their sources has never been more important. A good grounding in the application and use of statistics in school is essential to everyday life and future education.
Business statistics is the science of good decision making in the face of uncertainty and is used in many disciplines such as financial analysis, econometrics, auditing, production and operations including services improvement.
Statistics are used all the time in everyday life.
Every time you talk on your cell phone, it is doing thousands of statistical tests per minute to recover digital packets that represent the voice of the other person.
Whether the blood pressure you measured is something to be alarmed about.
Whether the pregnancy test (or cancer screening test) needs to be improved, or whether it is optimum for the services available.
Whether the road past your house should be scheduled for re-sealing this year or next.
Whether you represent a good loan risk at the bank, based on your profile.
Whether this batch of light bulbs actually last longer than those cheaper ones or not.
Whether the political polls actually represent a shift in opinion, or just a random fluctuation.
Is the world really warmer this year? And if so, does it represent a trend or a random fluctuation? Is there more Co2 than last year?
Anyway, I guess you get the idea. Everything uses stats. Except in Namibia. The land of the very brave.