Mo Ibrahim urges African govts to close data gaps for sustainable development

Mo Ibrahim. [PHOTO CREDIT: Mo Ibrahim Foundation Instagram Page]
Mo Ibrahim. [PHOTO CREDIT: Mo Ibrahim Foundation Instagram Page]

Data gaps will threaten Africa’s achievement of the sustainable development goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s governance report has warned.

The analysis published in the foundation’s African Governance Report 2019 was released last week.

The report, “Agenda 2063 & 2030: Is Africa on Track?” is the first from the Foundation on governance in Africa.

The comprehensive survey found that since the adoption of both agenda, the availability of public data in Africa has declined. It also said the quality of education provided by African countries has declined in the past five years.

Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mo Ibrahim, said: “We welcome continued efforts to improve governance, which is crucial to achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2063 goals.

“However, we are deeply worried by the inability to accurately monitor progress against these targets on the continent. Data is an essential foundation for effective policymaking and resource mobilisation. Without data, we drive blind – policies are misdirected and progress on the road to development is stunted. We must all act urgently to close the ‘data gap’; if indeed we aim to leave no one behind.”

“Without accurate and complete vital statistics, it is impossible to implement effective solutions to any development challenge and to deliver for citizens. Since 2008, little average improvement in statistical capacity has been made, according to IIAG data,” he added.

Drawing on the ten years data set on the 54 African nations, the report used data from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s previous indexes of African Governance (IIAG) to review the implementation of both the SDGs and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The data showed that for African countries to achieve any developmental goals, they need to fix three key areas – its data, education and provide quality health services for their people.

The report said there has been a notable decline in data on education and population, and vital statistics such as birth and death records, which allow citizens to access public services.

It said “… one of the areas that has seen, on average, large deterioration is population and vital statistics. Further, only eight African countries have a birth registration system that covers 90 per cent or more of the population over the last ten years (2009-2018), and only three have a death registration system that covers 90 per cent or more of the population. Nigeria is not one of the few countries found to be doing well in both areas.

Educational decline

The report shows that there has been a steady decline in the quality of education provided in schools. It noted that this is having a negative impact on the economy as people leaving schools are ill-prepared for the job market.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance found that poor access to college and university level education can be blamed for this.

It showed the challenge faced by many of the countries is providing education for productive employment, as the education systems do not provide quality skills relevant to the job market.

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It said education is one of the few sub-categories in the IIAG that has experienced an African average decline since 2014. It noted that many Africa countries still lag behind in providing an environment conducive for education-related human development targets.

In 2017, the five highest-scoring countries in education by percentage were Mauritius, Seychelles, Kenya, Algeria and Tunisia.

“Too many countries have low scores in providing access to and quality education, and for many, the situation is worsening. Of the bottom ten scoring countries, only one (South Sudan) has improved its Education score since 2014’” it said

“If African countries manage to put in place policies that improve the quality of education and lessen the mismatch between education supply and job market demands, they can enable their growing youth population with the knowledge and skills conducive to productive employment” it said

The study said the problem is that education development is not improving fast enough as the majority age group in Africa is now 15.

Health

The health sector, however, recorded a considerable improvement according to the report from the index which compared the services in 2014 and 2017.

The report cited some progress towards health and nutritional goals, but said African governments on the whole had not managed to translate economic growth into opportunities for citizens.

The report also showed that on the average, African countries have made large improvements in indicators measuring access to antiretroviral treatment for HIV positive people, child mortality and the prevalence of deaths from communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

“The average trend in Africa is thus one of substantial progress in many of the targets of both the continental and global goals related to child and maternal mortality, immunisation and treatment of communicable diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.

“Even though the measure has shown progress over the last decade, the pace of improvement has dropped substantially since 2014,” it said.

Call for good governance

Mo Foundation stressed that Africa’s fragmented data landscape needs to be strengthening for the continent to meet the development goals.

“For prosperity and economic opportunity, the report notes that governments and partners should look at diversifying economies, accelerating progress in infrastructure – specifically physical transport, electricity and ICT – increasing investment in the rural sector, and strengthening regional integration to make efficient progress”.

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