What do a Minister of Education, who is trying to reduce the school dropout rates and improve education quality, a Minister of Health, who is trying to address gaps in maternal and infant health, and a Minister of Finance, whose priority is to diversify the economy to drive more sustainable growth, all have in common?
Data! They all need a system for collecting data and information to inform their development policies and programs. One that can provide the intelligence needed to set benchmarks, monitor and evaluate the progress of their policies, and determine whether they are meeting their development goals.
However, in the absence of a central data bank in Equatorial Guinea, policy makers are facing several challenges as they struggle to gather and disseminate statistical data, and understand the impact and effectiveness of implemented policies.
Recognizing this critical gap, the Ministry of Economy, Planning, and Public Investment of Equatorial Guinea established a national statistics office called Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Guinea Equatorial (INEGE) in 2013. Through a Reimbursable Advisory Service (RAS), the World Bank is working on strengthening the national statistical system by providing usable, complete, and accurate data and statistics.
“Our country is aware of the necessity and importance of providing international organizations, private sector and the public in general with data that reflects the socio-economic reality of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. The government has undertaken significant efforts to establish and strengthen the capacity of the National Statistical Institute, and we can already witness the fruits of such efforts,” said Eucario Bakale Angüe, Minister of Economy, Planning, and Public Investment, at the launch of INEGE’s first economic report in July.
As part of the process, INEGE is working with various agencies within the public sector at both central and provincial levels to conduct outreach activities on data collection and reporting to the national data bank. Together, the World Bank Group and the Ministry have defined a range of activities that include:
- Providing technical assistance towards capacity building by developing a work plan and a timeline to conduct key statistical operations, such as a business census, a household survey, an enterprise census, an agricultural survey, an employment survey, and key time series such as National Accounts or Consumer Price Indices (CPI);
- Helping operationalize the newly founded INEGE in its day to day operations on structure, management, human resources, legal and institutional framework, and implementation of an action plan to promote education in statistics;
- Promoting the use of statistics in decision making enabling policy makers to fully understand the social and economic situation of the country and implement targeted policies and programs to address those issues.
“With the support of the RAS, we aim to break the vicious circle of limited data availability, low use of data in policymaking, and a weak statistical culture by promoting both the collection and dissemination of better quality data, and its systematic use for social and economic policy formulation,” explains Alain Gaugris, World Bank Senior Statistician and project lead.
Data for Development
The government of Equatorial Guinea also understands the relevance of these activities for a successful implementation of the National Development Plan Horizonte 2020, which was launched in 2007. The National Development Plan Horizonte 2020 focuses on improving infrastructure, human capital, and institutional and social transformation as well as developing new sources of economic growth in sectors such as fishery, agriculture, financial and tourism services, and the chemical industry. In addition, reliable and timely statistical data is also critical for the monitoring and evaluation of progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Increased transparency in information and the availability of improved statistics will benefit all stakeholders, including the government, development partners, businesses, academia, civil society, and citizens,” said Elisabeth Huybens, World Bank Country Director for Equatorial Guinea. “We are working closely with the government to strengthen every aspect of the INEGE, from placing experienced local staff to ensuring access to primary data from private and public sources, and the publication and regular dissemination of that data,” she added.
The INEGE is now operational and is a legally backed institution. The website has an embedded National Data Bank and the government recently validated decrees for the creation of the two remaining pieces of the soon-to-be National Statistical System; (i) the National Statistical Council and (ii) the Statistical Program Committee. The government also just adopted the 2016-2020 National Strategy for the Development of Statistics to further promote its development.
“INEGE is now embarking in statistical production with the preparation of an integrated household survey that will help update the poverty profile of the country, as well as rebase GDP and CPI and better capture the informal sector in the country,” explained Sylvie Dossou, World Bank Country Manager for Equatorial Guinea. “As part of our statistical development strategy, a critical step is to twin the INEGE with other Spanish-speaking Latin American statistics institutes, namely the DANE of Colombia and the INEI of Peru, so that it can further strengthen its capacity in the long run,” said Ms. Dossou.
INEGE is also focusing efforts on building a statistical culture in the country. Aside from the recent development of a BOOST tool and a Macro-fiscal forecasting tool, that was deployed at the end of June 2016, the INEGE is preparing a National Sensitization Strategy, which will include activities ranging from television advertisement to seminars targeting key actors of public and private sectors.
Source: World Bank