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UN launches online data portal on Africa’s SDG agenda

Victor Uzoho

A group of 17 regional United Nations entities, under the Africa Regional Collaborative Platform (RCP), yesterday (Tuesday), unveiled the Africa UN Data for Development Platform, the first online data portal that brings together statistical data harvested across all countries on the continent.

According to the group, the platform would simplify the process of measuring and evaluating the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the African continent.

This is the first platform to serve as a one-stop-shop repository that captures high-quality data and evidence on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs from all the African countries, and also the first of its kind to raise the profile of statistical progress toward the African Union vision – Agenda 2063.

Speaking at the virtual launch of the platform, the Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Assistant Secretary-General Ahunna Eziakonwa, said with barely nine years left to achieve the SDGs, making use of common and harmonized data is essential to accelerate progress.

According to Eziakonwa, who also serves as the Vice-Chair of the RCP, the launch of the new platform marks a milestone in actions towards the Agenda 2030 and the African Union 2063 Agenda.

“Reliable and collective data will allow all actors to make the best possible evidence-based policy action to accelerate the SDGs, strengthen collaboration, avoid unnecessary duplication and make sure that we can address gaps, really leaving no one behind,” she said.

The new data portal looks into the 17 SDGs and breaks them down into their 169 targets and 231 indicators, allowing everyone to track progress at the granular level.

Statisticians at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) had said among the 169 targets set out in the SDGs, only 30 per cent of them are quantifiable.

According to the Commission, the online platform goes ahead to propose target values for the unquantifiable targets, by using a pragmatic and ambitious approach. It identifies the region’s outstanding countries and sets their average rate of change as the region’s target rate.

Reliable and collective data will allow all actors to make the best possible evidence-based policy action to accelerate the SDGs, strengthen collaboration, avoid unnecessary duplication and make sure that we can address gaps, really leaving no one behind.

In his remarks, Vice President of Malawi, Dr Saulos Chilima, said: “Presenting comprehensive, practical data sets will especially help us, government civil servants, to monitor progress, make sound decisions, and evaluate outcomes and impacts. This data platform is a long-awaited online tool for us to carry out in-depth analyses and progress assessments at the target and indicator levels, and link them with our national development plans.”

Also commenting, the Director, ECA Africa Centre for Statistics, Oliver Chinganya, said: “Africa is a continent with great potential and clear aspirations as articulated in the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063. The transformation requires quality, timely and disaggregated data to guide targeted investments and ensure the desired returns in its human capital development, environmental sustainability, economic transformation and prosperity for all.”

Building on the existing infrastructure developed by ECA, the Africa UN data portal consolidates statistics from platforms and technological tools available at UN entities.

The new data engine also gives users the ability to classify the statistics by various dimensions, such as the eight regional economic communities recognised by the African Union, least developed countries, landlocked developing nations, and oil-producing, mineral-rich states.

Additionally, it repackages the data by key thematic issues. For example, users can categorize SDG indicators by agriculture, energy and health, allowing them to not only analyze the specific progress at the country level but also examine the convergence, similarities and differences among a variety of sub-regional blocs and topics.

Remarking, Regional Director ad interim of UNFPA East and Southern Africa, and OIBC 1 co-convener, Dr Bannet Ndyanabangi, said: “The aim is to reduce the burden on countries in terms of responding to data needs and avoid repeated data requests from various organizations. This portal brings fragmented data from member states into one place and this information can also be used by UN agencies and other partners.”

Meanwhile, the portal is open to all users, including policymakers, planners, programme managers, development partners, private sector organisations, civil society groups, academic institutions, researchers, students, media outlets and many others and can be used in progress reports on the SDGs and other sustainable development documents.

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