Africa must harness benefits of big data for sustainable development – NBS

By Okeoghene Akubuike
The Statistician-General of the Federation, Prince Adeyemi Adeniran, says Africa must harness the benefits of big data to achieve sustainable development.

Adeniran said this at a Public Lecture to mark the 2023 African Statistics Day celebration in Abuja on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the 2023 African Statistics Day is; “Modernising Data Ecosystems to Accelerate the Implementation of the AfCFTA: The Role of Official Statistics and Big Data in the Economic Transformation and Sustainable Development of Africa”.

He said the theme underscored the importance of embracing new thinking, innovation, and leveraging the power of both traditional official statistics and emerging big data sources.

Adeniran said the term “big data” refers not only to the sheer volume of information generated daily but also to the diversity and speed at which this data is produced.

“From social media interactions and online transactions to sensor readings and satellite imagery, the sources of big data are vast and varied, creating a variety of information that when properly harnessed, provides unprecedented insights.

Adeniran said the strength of big data was in its ability to uncover patterns and trends that may remain hidden in traditional datasets.

“The sheer volume and diversity of these data sources allows us to paint a more detailed and nuanced picture of economic dynamics.

The statistician-general said in the context of the AfCFTA, big data could play a pivotal role in understanding and optimising trade patterns.

“Big data analytics can provide real-time insights into the movement of goods, changes in consumer behaviour, and emerging market trends, empowering policymakers, and
businesses to make agile and well-informed decisions.

Furthermore, he said the integration of big data with official statistics enhanced the ability to assess the impact of policies on sustainable development.

“By analysing a broad spectrum of data, we can measure not only economic indicators but also the social and environmental dimensions of development.

“This holistic approach enables us to craft policies that not only stimulate economic growth but also address societal challenges and promote environmental sustainability.

Adeniran said in essence, the synergy between big data and official statistics opened new frontiers of knowledge and understanding.

“As we navigate the intricacies of the AfCFTA and work towards sustainable development, the judicious use of big data alongside traditional statistical methods empowers us to make informed, anticipatory, adaptive, and impactful decisions.

Mr Obiora Obi, who represented the Statistician-General of the States Bureau of Statistics, pledged to continue to support the NBS and the statistical family to meet the nation’s statistical needs.


Sarah Anyanwu, the President, Nigerian Economic Society, said data was vital in achieving national development objectives in Nigeria such as poverty and unemployment reduction.

“We need data to address inflation, and bridge the infrastructural deficit, we need data in the health, agric, and education sectors.

Anyanwu called on the government at all levels to adequately budget for data collation, and analysis to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria.

Dr Godday Ebuh, the National President, Chartered Institute of Statisticians of Nigeria, called on the national assembly to increase its budgetary allocation to NBS, saying conducting surveys was an expensive venture.

Ebuh said one of the objectives of AfCTA was to progressively eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods.

“Therefore, if statistics is modernised, documentation of trade could be carried out faster.

He commended the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for using big data and empowering its field officers with the needed technology to perform their functions.

NAN reports that the African Statistics Day is an annual event celebrated on Nov.

18 to raise public awareness of the importance of statistics in all aspects of social and economic life.



Edited by Ese E.

Eniola Williams

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