Established in 1958, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) is one of five regional commissions under the administrative direction of United Nations (UN) headquarters. It is mandated to support the economic and social development of its 53 member States, foster regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development.
The Commission is organized around seven programme clusters: African Centre for Statistics; Food Security & Sustainable Development; Gender and Social Development; Governance & Public Administration; ICT and Science and Technology; Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade; Economic Development and NEPAD. It also has the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, the Office of Strategic Planning and Programme Management, and the Division of Administration. In addition, five sub-regional offices contribute their perspective to the work programme and support outreach activities. Drawing on this structure ECA deploys several modalities and services to support its member States: policy analysis and advocacy; enhancing partnerships; technical assistance; communication and knowledge sharing; and supporting sub-regional activities.
ECA provides technical assistance and policy advice to African countries and the regional economic communities (RECs). This assistance is delivered through a variety of tools, including on-demand regional advisory services, training workshops and seminars, and fellowship and internship programmes involving visiting scholars and researchers. Regional advisory services have focused on key areas, namely gender and development; ICT; the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and poverty reduction; public finance management; trade promotion and negotiation; water; and statistics.
ECA ‘s five sub-regional offices (SROs) serve as vital links between policy-oriented analytical work generated at headquarters and policy making at the sub-regional level. They also serve as hubs for the dissemination of ECA’s policy through hands-on workshops, training, data collection and knowledge sharing.
The African Centre for Statistics (ACS) was created in August 2006, as a result of ECA’s restructuring, with division status and reporting responsibilities to the Executive Secretary of the ECA. ACS has currently 25 staff, with skills in national accounts, prices, trade statistics, social statistics, databases, statistical organization and surveys and censuses. The strategic objectives of the ACS are consistent with the analysis of the current situation of statistics in Africa and challenges that have been identified. These are to: (i) build capacity at the ECA Secretariat to implement its proposed programme of work that includes African population and housing censuses and re-engineering household surveys in Africa; (ii) build awareness for the role and importance of statistics for the development agenda among high-level government officials from the member States; (iii) enhance the capacity of member States to respond to user needs in pursuit of development outcomes; (iv) build statistical capacity at the ECA Secretariat to provide leadership in statistical development in Africa and become the authoritative source of development information on Africa; (v) provide support to ECA divisions to enhance their statistical development programmes being implemented in Africa at country, sub-regional and regional levels and build partnerships with other actors within the region and internationally in the development of African statistics; (vi) promote standardization of methods, concepts, definitions and classification in countries to produce comparable data across the region; and (vii) promote and support statistical training programmes in Africa by strengthening Statistical Training Centres in the region, database technologies, dissemination on the internet, GIS in national statistical offices and other areas of statistics. It also provides fellowships in various statistical fields and works closely with the statistical training centres in Africa.
Received October 2010