Dr Simeon Koffi, Director, Department of Macroeconomics Policy and Economic Research, ECOWAS Commission, has said the absence of data computation is affecting efforts to harmonise statistics in member countries.
He said though some countries are making progress in data assembly, statistics and adopting modern software to compute data, many still remain behind and this demands capacity building and use of technology to provide harmonised and quality data to guide policy and decision-making efforts.
Dr Koffi said this at a workshop on economic monitoring, short-term economic forecasting and modeling 2019-2020 for English-speaking Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) including Ghana, The Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Cabo Verde in Accra.
The four-day workshop is organised by the Economic Commission for Africa Sub Regional Office for West Africa (ECA SRO-WA) under the auspices of the Economic and Statistical Observatory for Sub-Saharan Africa (AFRISTAT).
The objective of the meeting is to share experiences on the recent economic developments and short-term macroeconomic forecasting methods used in English-speaking member states.
It also seeks to contribute to the efforts being made to have a short and medium term overview of the macroeconomic indicators of the region for qualitative data and statistics compilations.
He said statistical harmonisation is not going fast as expected as macroeconomic data is not available in real time, placing member countries on different thresholds and defeating the position of data compilation and computation.
Dr Koffi said efforts to produce reliable and timely qualitative statistics especially the provision of quarterly gross domestic product (GDP), other economic indicators and business surveys are vital.
He said the convergence of growth rates and productivity is crucial for an economic and monetary union, hence the appropriateness of the short to medium term economic forecasts and modeling.
He said the ECOWAS Commission is preoccupied with reporting on economic solutions of the sub-region, accounting for external trade and specific monitoring information following reforms or major changes in economic environment.
Mr Bakary Dosso, Acting Director, ECA SRO-WA, said prospects of the workshop include strengthening partnerships and collaborations between West Africa Regional Economic bodies and the United Nations agencies for the attainment of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 campaign, the African Union Agenda 2063 and the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
He said ECA is poised to strengthen the capacities of member countries towards making data available on demo-economics, support the development of policies and actions on the demographic dynamics for the measurement and attainment of demographic dividend.
He said ECA objective is to promote inclusive and sustainable development in Africa in support of accelerating the economic diversification and structural transformation of the continent.
Mr Komlan Dodzi Agbodji, Director of Forecasting and Economic Studies, West African Economic Monetary Union, said it is a necessity to harmonise statistical data in an appropriate manner for easy national accounting purposes.
He said English-speaking ECOWAS countries are expected to benefit from funding lines from the IMF for structural development of Council of Finance Ministers to facilitate accounting models for economic forecasting for national development planning.
The workshop is being attended by statisticians from national offices, economic planning officers, chief economists and strategists and researchers.
Expected outcomes of the workshop includes strengthening collaboration with AFRISTAT, ECOWAS, West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU), West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) and African Regional Technical Assistance Centre in West Africa (AFRITAC Ouest) in terms of support to countries in the area of statistical information and development.