A conference, the first and largest ever in Africa, dedicated to the topic of enhancing data for better macroeconomic and financial policies is underway in Accra.

Senior policy-makers from all parts of Africa are attending the conference, which is taking place on the theme: ‘Enhanced Data for Better Macro Policies’, was organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in collaboration with the Bank of Ghana and the British Department for International Development (DfID).

The Conference provides the opportunity to build on the commitments made at the Addis Ababa gathering last July to secure Financing for Development (FfD) and attain the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It also provides the opportunity to understand and recognize the importance of national statistical units which provide the raw material for economic and financial analysis, leading to strong economic policies and development planning.

In an address at the opening of the conference in Accra, yesterday, the Minister for Finance, Mr Seth Terkper noted that enhanced data was key to the formulation of better policies and national development, and urged African governments make the necessary investment to strengthen their national statistical units.

Mr Terkper also noted that measuring the achievement of the SDGs, which had up to 300 underlying indicators, posed new challenges of better data.

He identified regional integration as a higher priority on the policy agenda and stressed the need to learn from colleagues on how harmonized data could contribute in a meaningful way to regional integration.

He, therefore, called for a quantum leap to put data more on the front burner than had been done in the past and urged Development Partners to support Africa to meet this challenge.

On Ghana’s achievements in the development of enhanced data, the Finance Minister said the Government of Ghana had pursued greater data transparency, including through its participation in the IMF’s General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) and developed detailed plans for statistical improvements that were posted on the IMF’s Data Dissemination Bulletin Board. “Our experience with rating agencies and the issuing of sovereign bonds on the international capital market tells me that more transparency will eventually provide dividends, including facilitating government borrowing and lowering costs”, Mr Terkper added.

In a key note address, IMF Deputy Managing Director, Min Zhu, underscored the importance of accurate and reliable data as the foundation for policy-making and macroeconomic management.

Dr Zhu said statistics should provide transparency to the governance structure to promote economic growth and development.

IMF, with its considerable technical expertise, has been providing technical assistance and training in the many domains of macroeconomic and financial statistics, such as national accounts, price statistics, government finance, monetary and external sector statistics, and increasingly also on how to disseminate those data.

IMF has collaborated with several development partners, most notably DFID, that has supported the Enhance Data Dissemination Initiative (EDDI) over the last five years and is now entering into its second five-year phase, with even more beneficiary countries.

Under this project, Ghana recently completed a private sector capital flow survey that will be used to help strengthen the country’s balance of payments and international investment position measurements.

Ghana also now compiles and publishes Quarterly National Accounts statistics and in the recently-started successor project, EDDI2, government plans to focus on monetary statistics, financial soundness indicators and data dissemination.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)