Pali J. Lehohla: South African Statistician-General and ASSD Chairman
The drum is beating again and louder, this time beckoning the African statistical community to the 9th Africa Symposium on Statistical Development to be held at the majestic Gaborone International Convention Centre in Gaborone, Botswana from 17th to 21st February 2014. The theme of this meeting “promoting use of civil registration and vital statistics in support of good governance in Africa” is the rallying point.
The 9th ASSD will take on the statistical development challenges facing our continent to a higher rung. As you are quite aware following our strides in tackling the 2010 Round of Population and Housing Censuses, the medium-term programme for the ASSD became Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) in the period 2011–2015. The 9th ASSD brings us midway to the 2011–2015 mandate entrusted to us by the African Ministers responsible for CRVS and it will be held a few months before the CRVS Ministers gather to take stock of progress made since the Durban meeting in 2012. This event therefore presents us with an opportunity to look back where we come from and ask ourselves the critical question, have we made good inroads? You do not need to be reminded of the Ministers call to action which included conducting of in-depth assessment of our countries’ CRVS systems, reinforcing of CRVS capacity, adequate resourcing of CRVS Secretariat, upscaling our response to knowledge demand for death registration and causes of death certification, and adequate resourcing of CRVS development agenda.
It is heartening to see that we have oiled the wheels of the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS) through the following: the adoption of the medium-term plan, the development of assessment tools, the training of a pool of CRVS experts and the rolling out of comprehensive assessments in countries such as Mozambique, Botswana, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Zambia and others. Inspite of these, the question then becomes even more pointed, have we accelerated at the optimum speed?
In our bid to answer this question, the symposium in Gaborone should be used to quantify our progress, compare notes on what works and what does not, identify hurdles and agree on an improvement plan that we all shall be proud to present to the Third Conference of Ministers responsible for CRVS. Let me thank you for your resolve and all efforts invested in changing the face of the African statistical landscape for the better as we draw closer to the vision of a united Africa at peace with itself through statistics. I cannot help but expect the 9th ASSD to be a resounding success.
See you in Gaborone!