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Data is crucial for equity and justice in Africa – Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Afrobarometer’s 10th launch of national surveys

“Data in the context of African development is critical to formulating evidence-based policies,” stressed former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when speaking on achieving justice and equity in Africa at this year’s Afrobarometer Planning Meeting in Ghana.

Madam Sirleaf advocated for a timely collection and dissemination of accurate data in Africa as a vehicle for the reduction of inequalities and the development of inclusive policies.

Despite current challenges that hinder the efforts of gathering reliable data in some parts of the continent, several governments and organizations are investing in building the necessary infrastructures and capacity to collect and analyze data.

Afrobarometer – a pan-African, non-partisan survey research network – has been one of the pioneers of data collection and dissemination in Africa. Conducting surveys on democracy, governance, the economy, and society, Afrobarometer has supported data-driven development policies and contributed to the inclusion of citizens’ voices in policy and decision-making.

A member of Afrobarometer’s International Advisory Council, Madam Sirleaf joined fellow members Margot Wallström – a former Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister – Peter Kellner, Riva Levinson, Frank Mwiti, as well as Afrobarometer board members for the five-day gathering in Ada, Ghana, to design the 10th round of surveys covering up to 40 African countries.

The planning meeting involved a series of plenary and working-group sessions to discuss and design survey instruments and methodologies, data quality assurance measures, and results dissemination strategies.

Madam Sirleaf underscored the importance of Afrobarometer’s work in shaping inclusive policies in Africa:

“By gathering data from diverse populations across the continent, your work helps inform evidence-based decision-making and contributes to developing policies and programs that respond to the needs and aspirations of African citizens.”

Afrobarometer’s mission to include African voices in the development of inclusive and democratic decision-making processes and policies is in line with the EJS Center’s efforts to promote accurate data and statistics as a tool for increased equity in public governance.

The EJS Center Data Hub has set a precedent in Africa by becoming the premier destination for data on women’s leadership in public governance. Initially covering 15 countries in West Africa, the Data Hub will soon expand to the rest of the continent and provide statistical information on women’s participation at the highest levels of leadership in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.

Offering a roadmap toward making the collection and dissemination of “timely data a reality in Africa,” Madam Sirleaf called for increased investment in data infrastructure and capacity building; greater emphasis on data-driven decision-making; and the development of public awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of data in the context of African development.

“While significant challenges face the continent, progress is being made in many areas… Afrobarometer’s work has created a platform for African citizens to voice their opinions and concerns – thereby promoting a culture of transparency, accountability, and active citizenship in Africa.”

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