The last few decades have witnessed a significant increase in demand for quality information from African national statistical systems (NSSs). A number of national, subregional, regional and international development initiatives have contributed to this increase in demand for quality statistics, including the monitoring, evaluation and tracking of progress made towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This has put much pressure on already weak and vulnerable NSSs to deliver the required information to monitor development initiatives.
The increase in demand for quality information has not only challenged African NSSs, but also offered them opportunities for the production of the needed information and the development of their systems. In fact, the international process put in place to collect and transfer information for monitoring the MDGs is a commendable initiative and has allowed for cooperation among several stakeholders, including national producers, regional and international organizations and the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) with its global database. The Inter-Agency and Expert Group (IAEG) on MDG Indicators has also played a central role in tracking progress towards achieving the MDGs. It has also allowed many countries to build their capacity for collecting information in many areas related to the MDGs.
Despite this commendable collaboration between countries and international organizations, many challenges still hamper the capacity of African countries to report on progress or lack thereof in reaching the MDGs. These include the lack of data on some indicators, data discrepancies between national and international organizations, methodological issues, capacity- building and statistical coordination within NSSs and between NSSs and international organizations.
This paper presents a number of issues and challenges confronting African NSSs in the delivery of quality statistics for monitoring the MDGs and suggests some potential remedial measures for these challenges. It is organized in six sections, beginning with this introduction. The second section and third sections present the IAEG on MDG Indicators, followed by an overview of the new framework of the MDG indicators, including the new targets and related indicators. The fourth section deals with challenges and potential remedial measures, while the fifth section suggests the potential role of the United Nations regional commissions (RCs) in the MDG monitoring process. The final section concludes the paper.