Government has urged statistical bodies in COMESA to link their statistical systems with the needs of users to enable them become applicable to national development planning.

At the official opening of the ninth COMESA committee on statistical matters in Lusaka, Wednesday, Ministry of National Development Planning Permanent Secretary for development planning and administration Chola Chabala explained that linking statistical systems and needs of the users would make statistics more relevant and applicable to national development planning.

Chabala told delegates that Zambia was about to undertake a critical activity to rebase its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which would have far-reaching implications on socio-economic policies.

“This policy and other statistical activities underscore the importance of statistics in shaping, not only our policy direction, but also the development trajectory of our countries. This should give us a critical reflection of the vital role statistics play in development planning and monitoring and evaluating our development interventions,” Chabala said.

And Chabala noted that the 37th COMESA Council of Ministers meeting approved the 2017-2020 COMESA statistics strategy, which aims at providing an overreaching framework of how statistical development would be undertaken in the COMESA region.

“It was heartening that at the end period review of the prior strategy by African Development Bank and Paris 21, a favourable review of the performance of your work as a Committee and the work of the Secretariat in the prior 2014-2017 statistics strategy was given. The approach of the 2017-2020 statistics strategy is taken based on providing a statistical response to COMESA’s Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP). Therefore, the challenge for your Committee and the Secretariat is really on how to draft programmes that are clearly responsive to the Medium Term Strategic Plan and ensure delivery of results within reasonable time lines,” said Chabala

Meanwhile, COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe said the COMESA statistical system was underpinned by the national strategies for development of statistics, while synergising with the continental frameworks.

“Your meeting marks the first year of implementation of the 2017-2020 statistics strategy. Accordingly, your secretariat will be reporting on progress made in the year under review. We look forward to your guidance on issues related to the implementation so as to ensure that our programmes have the stamp of your ownership as member-states,” said Kapwepwe.