REGIONAL INTEGRATION : East Africa has to harmonise data collection

Of late we have witnessed a positive trend on the global market; China revised up its growth statistics, and America shows some rise in consumer confidence in the run-up to the Christmas shopping season. Europe is also posting some modest growth and some analysts are saying the worst of the recession is over.

Of late we have witnessed a positive trend on the global market; China revised up its growth statistics, and America shows some rise in consumer confidence in the run-up to the Christmas shopping season.

Europe is also posting some modest growth and some analysts are saying the worst of the recession is over.

This is expected to boost demand and supply in the global economy.

What about East Africa, are we experiencing regional growth? It is hard to tell, South Africa is the first major African country to post some growth in manufacturing and construction.

It is near impossible to get accurate economic data on most East African countries. To get a regional perspective you have to merge separate economies on a balance sheet.

We ask how we can mentally integrate East Africa as an economy, to merge the component nations and people into one. This will take time but the first step is harmonization of data collection and analysis as a region.

The reason the EU really began to flourish was when they took data collation and analysis out of national governments to an independent regional body.

Producing East African economic data is the first step towards selling as a single a market, much like the EU thinks as one market.

In this knowledge-based era, we cannot have economic progress unless key indicators are measured and appraised.

No East African nation produces monthly data on the following: Trade, employment, industrial output, orders, consumer confidence, consumer price index, underlying inflation, headline inflation, housing prices, energy prices, and a host of other indicators that measure performance.

We will never solve our problems unless we are honest about them; the Rwanda Bureau of statistics has been erratic in the regularity of its releases, forcing one to get information from  outside sources like UNCTAD and IMF or World Bank.

Even in the latest Auditor-General report, a number of departments were unable to supply full accounts and data.
Knowledge is power, investors want to be aware of the risks, it does not matter how bad they are, and they just want to know what they are.

We have to be dead honest about our plight; we cannot afford to  give our economic planners incomplete data,as it is like lying to a doctor about your symptoms when you are actually sick because it could be fatal.

So in looking for data on an East African recovery I found a brick wall, but the USAID report summed it up well.

“Economic growth throughout the region is inhibited by a poor business climate, high transport and energy costs and low on-farm productivity levels.”

This has been our problem, it affects us more than the global crisis; if the global crisis is flu, and then our poor regional business climate is cancer. We have the replicate the reforms seen here regionally or they will be for nothing.

Ends

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