Nigeria needs to apply valuable knowledge acquired during the MDGs era - Opia Kumah

Nov 11, 2015

It is gives me great pleasure to address this State-level workshop on ‘Data Mapping for the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria”. Mr Chairman, this workshop takes place two months after the highly successful national-level meeting on the same subject held in Abuja and hardly two weeks after the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDGs Indicators Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. As you are well aware, the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators which brings together member states of the United Nations, Nigeria included, and regional and international agencies, was created by the United Nations Statistical Commission in March this year with the mandate of proposing a global indicator framework. The results of this global initiative will be considered the Statistical Commission at its forty-seventh session in March 2016. The work of the group has nonetheless become an important reference point and input into national level activities related to data for monitoring and reporting on the SDGs.

While the Inter-agency and expert group is yet to complete its work, it is now clear that the international community favours a limited number of indicators for monitoring progress towards the SDGs. In the area of poverty, for instance, the group has just adopted the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) as an indicator for measuring progress towards the SDGs. This is a clear testimony of the desire of the international community to capture and measure progress towards the SDGs in more qualitative and comprehensive terms.  As we deliberate on the indicators for measuring progress in Nigeria over the next two days, we should therefore keep in mind the need to evolve and adopt those indicators which are broad, qualitative and contextually relevant to our unique national situation.

Mr Chairman, with regards to data for the SDGs implementation, monitoring and reporting, the critical challenge facing Nigeria is not the lack of knowledge of what needs to be done but rather how to apply the available knowledge and lessons learnt from the MDGs implementation over the past fifteen years. The country has learnt invaluable lessons from the MDGs implementation process. We fully appreciate the challenges that the country faces with respect to data. We know what works and what does not. We know where the gaps are. We know where the bottlenecks are. We know which indicators are particularly problematic to measure. We ought to use this rich knowledge base to evolve the most plausible implementation strategies for tracking, capturing and processing the SDGs indicators in a comprehensive, coordinated and efficient manner.

Mr Chairman, it is in response to this realization of the need for better preparedness, greater coordination and achieving the desired results in the most efficient manner that the National Bureau of Statistics, with support from UNDP, initiated the Data Mapping Exercise in June this year.  The exercise is aimed at ensuring that, guided by the global and universal set of SDGs indicators, national stakeholders will agree on and commit to a set of nationally contextualized SDGs indicators. More importantly, for all these nationally contextualized SDGs indicators, responsible federal level MDAs and/or State level institutions will be identified and persistent data gaps and harmonization issues will be resolved.

You will recall, Mr Chairman, that a key target of SDG 17 is ‘Data, Monitoring and Accountability’. And that by 2020 [less developed] countries are expected to ‘increase significantly the availability of high quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in  national contexts’. The present exercise should therefore, be viewed in the broader context of addressing this particular commitment and contributing to a ‘Data Revolution’ in Nigeria. I have no doubt that Nigeria has what it takes to be a leader in this arena of ‘Data Revolution’.

The Africa Data Revolution which is being championed by the African Union Commission (AUC) and other Development partners, including UNDP, calls for drawing upon a wide range of data communities and data sources, tools and technologies to provide disaggregated data for decision making, service delivery and citizens engagement. It recognizes the need to expand the data ecosystem to ensure that the data communities, producers and users, across the entire data value chain, are sufficiently mobilized to increase their commitment in ensuring that accurate, comprehensive and reliable data is readily available to policy and decision makers.

We believe that a ‘Data Revolution” in Nigeria is necessary if the country is to address the plethora of challenges it is currently faced with regarding data. These challenges include, but are not limited to, lack of harmonization of data from different sources; lack of timely, accurate and comparable data across the 36 States in Nigeria;  and uneven coverage and lack of sufficient disaggregation by gender and geography. We also believe that such a ‘Data Revolution’ calls for the establishment of a platform for regular interaction, debate and dialogue between the supply and demand sides of the data equation in the country at both federal and state levels.

Mr Chairman, over the next two days we will have opportunity to identify the data assets and gaps at the state level. We will also have opportunity to identify and recognize the roles of the various data producers and stakeholders at state level. It is my sincere hope that at end of the two days we will come up with a clear roadmap with key milestones for the future of data and information system in the country. You will recall, Mr Chairman, that in the past, UNDP provided support for strengthening the capacity of the national and state statistical systems, including the provision of a virtual private network to ensure the seamless transfer of data from the States Statistical Offices to the National Bureau of Statistics in Abuja.  Working closely with other development partners, UNDP will continue to strengthen its partnership with the National Bureau of Statistics and State-level Statistics Offices, in ensuring that timely, accurate and comparable data is available in the country.

Mr Chairman, Distinguished participants, I thank you all for listening to me and would like to wish you very fruitful deliberations over the next two days.

(Delivered on behalf of the Opia Kumah UNDP Nigeria Resident Representative ai by Ojijo Odhiambo Economic Advisor in Kaduna State)

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