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We need to enlarge scope of statistics – Alweendo

The Director General of the National Planning Commission, Tom Alweendo this week said there is a need to enlarge the scope of official statistics in the country to guide development planning.
Speaking at a one day workshop aimed at determining the needs of users and producers of the country’s statistical system, Alweendo said going forward, development planning will require very careful choices on how resources are used and where action needs to be taken. High quality data will be demanded on what progress is being made.
He said all of this requires comprehensive, up to date and reliable statistical information that is produced in line with international principles and best practices. The Director General also said it is important that statistics are disseminated to everyone in a format that makes it easy for people to understand and use.
The production and use of statistics in Namibia does not have a long history compared to other countries with the collection of statistics only starting soon after independence.
However, Alweendo recognises that despite being late in implementing a national statistical system, Namibia has been able to complete regular population censuses, measure poverty and well-being, monitor the performance of the economy, measure inflation and provide important information on access and use of public services such as health and education.
A new Statistics Act was passed into law last year with the view to build coordinated and sustainable capacity for the collection, production, analyses and dissemination of statistics in accordance with the UN fundamental principles of official statistics.
The new act provides the legal framework for a modern, efficient statistical system that can meet the needs of a rapidly developing country. However, Alweendo said while the new law provides the basis for developing and building a strong statistical system, it does not guarantee that this will be done.
He said: “It is a necessary condition for future development of statistics, but by no means can it be considered to be sufficient. This is why we are having this workshop. The development of our national statistical system is too important to be left to the statisticians alone. We, all of us, producers and users of statistics, politicians, private sector business people and citizens alike, have to be involved.”
By replacing the outdated Statistics Act, No 66 of 1976, the new act created an autonomous National Statistics Agency headed by well-known economist, Dr John Steytler.
Before the old act was repealed, many users of statistics in the country had complained about the unreliability and inconsistency of important statistics. For example, the  Labour Force Survey of 2008 which shows that more than half of the population is unemployed has been heavily disputed by economists and politicians alike.

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