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NSA plans big for 2014

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), the body entrusted with the collection, production, and dissemination of official statistics in the country, has laid out its big plans to improve data capturing.
In a recent interview, the Statistician General Dr John Steytler gave the Economist an insight into some of the agency’s programmes lined up for this year.
Steytler said the Agriculture Census, the first in 20 years, is at the top of the agency’s priority list. However, the census, scheduled for this January, hangs in the balance as government has not yet made available the N$18 million funding required to carry out the exercise. The NSA is arguing that the agriculture census should be prioritised since the agriculture sector is the biggest job creator in the country as shown by the recent Labour Force Survey.

The Statistician General said plans are afoot to release regional profiles for each of the 14 regions. This exercise is expected to start during the first quarter of this year.
Said Steytler of the regional profiles: “That [the regional profiles] will enable policy makers at a local level to get better policies, because at a local level, at a constituency level, we will be able to say how many people are in the area, what does the age profile look like, what are they doing, where do they live, what are their sources of income.”
In addition, the NSA will be releasing fertility and mortality reports this year as well as population projections up to the year 2050. These reports, the NSA said, will give authorities an indication of what will likely happen to the Namibian population in the future. Steytler said the exercise will be important for all sorts of modelling, including economic modelling.
The NSA also intends to release the results of the 2013 Labour Force Survey, the country’s first annual labour force survey, early in the year followed by the rebasing of the national accounts to reflect the prices and incomes of 2010. During the rebasing exercise, the NSA seeks to improve the scope of coverage, although Steytler is sceptical that full coverage will be achieved.  He said: “I don’t think we will come to a stage where we will have full coverage because we don’t have a business register yet, but we are tapping into administrative records to improve the coverage of sectors such as manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and a few others. I think we will have a better estimate of GDP.” The NSA also plans to have monthly reports on the different sectors of the economy as well as introduce a permanent household income and expenditure survey. According to the Statistician General, the NSA Board has already approved a permanent household income and expenditure survey. He added that depending on the availability of funding, the permanent survey will be introduced sometime between April and August this year. “We will have staff permanently in the field that will collect income and expenditure data, a whole range of data that is required for monitoring and evaluation. We should be able to generate quarterly reports on poverty, quarterly reports on income trends, and on the labour force. What is holding us back now is really just the funding. We have tested our instruments, we have tested our methodologies and we think we are ready,” Steytler said. Further, the NSA wants to do away with paper data capturing. The agency has already purchased portable devices that will be used in this regard. “We are training our staff for them to be able to go to a household with a portable device and capture data and transmit it directly to our database. These are some of the exciting initiatives that we are planning, but will require some bit of funding. And when I say funding it is actually not so much. If I look at the budget as a whole, what we request will be really little so I hope the government will give us that funding,” Steytler said.

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