Last September, I wrote a piece about getting reliable data within the informal economies in Africa as a response to the questions that we get from clients on the quality and reliability of the data we collect.
It is often assumed that the data challenges are only affecting African economies given the lack of data infrastructure, training in addition to the high cost of collecting data in economies that are among the poorest in the world.
A new research by London based research firm World Economics just came up with a methodology to rank the 154 countries according to the reliability of their gross domestic product statistics. The data quality index (100=best score) is calculated using five criterias:
1) The base year used – the far out the base, the lower the score
2) The international method followed for compiling GDP – the more recent, the better
3) The size of the informal economy – the bigger the size, the lower the score
4) GDP per capital as proxy of how much states can spend to collect data – the higher, the better
5) Corruption per transparency International – the higher the ranking, the lower the score.
Before getting into the criterias and the methodology, let’s note the fact that none of the countries got 100 (best possible score) which means the problem is common to all countries on the planet.
How do African countries fair?
Not surprisingly South Africa comes in on top driven by criteria 1 and 2 for a total score of 64.8. Mauritius comes in second with 60.8. As far as SSA is concerned, Namibia, Rwanda and Botswana come in as 3rd, 4th and 5th.
Top 5 African countries are:
South Africa (64.8) – 47th overall
Mauritius (60.8) – 50th overall
Namibia (57.8) – 58th overall
Rwanda (57.8) – 59th overall
Bostwana (56.6) – 60th overall
A quick check at the websites of these countrie's statistical offices can provide a hint as to why these countries statistics can be trusted to some degrees.
At the bottom of the ranking, we have Haiti, Sudan, Mali, DRC mostly due to the very old base year and low GDP per capita.
For us, the key take-away is that African countries should not see the challenges of collecting data and producing reliable statistics as solely an Africa issue. It's a global issue and every innovative solution should be welcomed, tested and can be used everywhere.
We believe Africa can take the lead of providing solutions to collect reliable data within informal economies hence move more African countries up in the ranking.
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