I cannot recall how long it’s been without being able to access the website of the government statistics agency, Statistics Botswana, formerly known as Central Statistics Office (CSO).
But it has been a long time, long enough to make us want to remind them of a few obligations they have towards prospective investors, business community and the members of the fourth estate.
Whether Statistics Botswana want to believe it or not, the internet or website is increasing as the source for which customers (in our case investors) seek products and services year by year. And there are certainly potential investors who are looking for some sort of statistics which they could use to make investment decisions.
It is through website such as the one for Statistics Botswana that our country should be opening up the lines of communication and show the citizens of the global village who we are. The relocation of DTC has put us on spotlight and that a fact.
Surely our government Statistician, Anah Majelantle and her team have not forgotten that the overall aim of any statistical system is to yield information for a certain decisions. But why does Statistics Botswana want to deny investor in Asia, Europe, and North Africa an opportunity to make decisions to come and create jobs for close to 20 percent of our unemployed citizens?
The assumption for now though would be that the agency has gone off air to revamp its website. If that is the case then we hope to see it back online soon. We cannot afford to have no point of reference. We are in an elections year and given the credits that Botswana has been getting over the years, most investors are obviously doing their desk top research on our country. They want to decide whether to come set up here post the elections or not.
Whatever the case is, executives at Statistics Botswana should be reminded that a major point of concern for every national statistical agency including our very own should be provision of statistics that all the users would need. Not outdated one. We could use quarterly stats on unemployment, national accounts, various sectors as well as geographical set of stats.
Just under two weeks back, I received an email from the agency with an attachment of statistics covering the tourism sector. In as much as I appreciated the receipt of that email, its content was not really useful. It was for 2010. Someone from Statistics Botswana should give Sunday Standard office a call soon and explain to us what was that for? 2010 Statistics in May 2014?
Our assumption and believe is that all the data coming from that agency should be given a political/policy context. In short, our vital friends at Statistics Botswana should be reminded that the lack of real time statistics is making it difficult for some researchers, analysts and economists to interpret economic events.
Our researchers and economists are lagging behind in terms of giving opinions on the domestic economy because when they use these stale statistics no one would ever take them serious.
We salute the good job that the Statistics Botswana has done over the years, more so that for a very long time they were a government department. But now that they are autonomous our expectations on them have slightly changed.
We expect them to give us up to date official statistics that meet the test of practical utility, compiled and made available on an impartial basis to honour citizens’ entitlement to public information.
In an election like this year, no one should be made to remind Majelantle and her crew at Statistics Botswana that timely and up to date official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the Government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation.
To this end, one is forced to recall some of the United Nations’s recent resolutions on issues of the Economic and Social Council highlighting the fundamental importance of official statistics for the national and global development agenda.
Majelantle and #team Statistics Botswana should always bear in mind that the essential trust of the public in the integrity of official statistical systems and confidence in statistics depend to a large extent on respect for the fundamental values and principles.
The main reason why three years back we supported the autonomy of Statistics Botswana was because we all know that professional independence and accountability of statistical agencies are crucial.
The Bottom-line Statistics Botswana is that, for you to retain our trust there is need to stick to strict professional considerations, including scientific principles and professional ethics, on the methods and procedures for the collection, processing, storage and presentation of statistical data. #We want www.cso.gov.bw back.