• ODA received for data and statistics has nearly halved between 2018 and 2021.
• Compared to other continents African region possesses the lowest availability of civil registration and vital statistics.
Kenya risks missing out on most of its 2030 goals due to low funding channeled towards development of critical data that should be used in key decision making, The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has warned.
In recent years, there has been a notable trend of data being elevated to a highly valuable resource, with various monikers such as "new oil" and "new gold" being attributed to it.
However, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in its new report 2023 IIAG Series Report: The power of data for governance says that Kenya and other sub-Saharan states have failed to allocate enough resources in data collecting to enable the countries implement their agenda.
The underfunding of data remains a serious challenge globally, with statistics receiving just 0.34 percent of total Official Development Assistance (ODA).
According to Mo Ibrahim, the founder and chair of the foundation, in Africa, ODA received for data and statistics has nearly halved between 2018 and 2021.
“Without data, we are driving blind – policies are misdirected and progress on the road to development is stunted," said Mo Ibrahim.
We must act urgently to close the data gap in Africa if we genuinely want to leave no one behind."
He said data is key to achieving both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’ Sustainable Development Goals and that what UN Agenda 2030 should have begun with is an SDG 0 – Sound Data for Governance.
The report paints a grim picture of projects implementation on the region with Africa remaining the continent most impacted by data gaps globally.
Compared to other continents African region possesses the lowest availability of civil registration and vital statistics.
“When it comes to the basic building blocks of statistics that are key to defining public policies, such as population censuses and birth and death registration, many African countries are missing crucial data,” the report reads in part.
Even in areas where strides have been made, critical governance data gaps persist on issues including health structures, the informal economy, the environment, violence against women, child labour, and illicit financial flows.
“Without data, policies are misdirected and progress on the road to development is stunted. We must act urgently to close the data gap in Africa if we genuinely want to leave no one behind,” added Mo Ibrahim.
In addition to investing in data, the report outlines critical strategies to enhance data impact and accelerate development progress on the continent.
These include the importance of ensuring the independence of National Statistical Offices, harnessing alternative data sources like citizen-generated data and private company data, and leveraging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
In recent years, Africa has made significant strides in adopting data policy frameworks and laws. By December 2022, 33 African countries (60 percent of the continent), had implemented data protection legislation, up from 20 countries (36 percent of the region) five years ago.
Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data CEO Claire Melamed says that on average, investing one dollar in data systems delivers a return of $32 in the form of economic benefits for the country.