By George Mponda
The National Statistics Office (NSO) says modernised and automated data collection systems are vital in producing trade statistics which is essential in the economic transformation of the country.
The remarks were made in Mzuzu on Saturday by Commissioner of Statistics, Lizzie Chikoti during the commemoration of the 2023 Africa Statistics Day.
“Migrating from the use of paper based questionnaires in collectimg statistical data to adopting Computer Assited Personal Interviewing (CAPI) by using mobile digital equipment like tablets has improved the accuracy and processing speed of data.
“We have also seen automation of all Malawi Revenue Authority’s entry or exit ports. This helps in producing accurate trade statistics which are an important input into national accounts and balance of payments statistics which improve econometric forecasting models and making informed policies aimed at accumulating foreign exchange reserves,” said Chikoti.
The Commissioner stressed that modernisation of data systems are critical for the succesful implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
“Considering the internal challenges facing Africa and the disruption of the global economy by Covid-19 plus the Russia-Ukraine War, creation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area is a major opportunity to help countries like Malawi to diversify exports, accelerate growth and attract foreign direct investment. Such ambitious plans of turning the economy around need good statistical data to provide evidence based knowledge for better informed trade policies,” she explained.
In his remarks, Director of Adminstration for Northern Region Water Board, Dongakhulu Hlongo said generating quality data is pivotal in guiding trade policy decisions and formulation.
“As a country, we need to develop skills of data collectors in using modern technics in data collection. There is also need to develop the necessary infrastructure which will aide in modernising data collection for example by making sure that we have reliable internet connectivity throughout the country,”Hlongo said.
The African Statistics Day is celebrated on 18th November annually and the theme for this year was ‘Modernizing data ecosystems to accelerate the implemenntation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): the role of official statistics and Big Data in the economic transformation and sustainable development of Africa.’