President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday urged governments in Africa to help solve some of the challenges facing the continent's statistical institutions and systems to enable them to deliver quality data to support evidence based decision-making.
"Many of our statistical systems are in a critical state, badly in need of reorganization, rationalization of resources and more effective management," he said in address read for him by the Finance Minister Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu at the opening of the 3rd Africa Symposium on Statistical Development (ASSD).
It is being held in Accra on the theme: "Best Practice and Exchanging Experience: Africa 2010 Round of Population and Housing Censuses."
The objective is to restore statistical development at the national, sub-regional and regional levels on the continent and to ensure that every African was counted before the end of the 2010 population census decade, which spans 2005 to 2010.
President Kufuor said it was regrettable that although statistics was fundamental to the success of governance and developmental process, it was often time unavailable when really needed.
He said the increasing demand for statistics presented the most conducive environment for statistical advocacy and development.
"The condition augurs well for the statistics community. If you respond efficiently, the appreciation for statistics will grow. If you fail to effectively manage and meet the growing expectations, this unique opportunity will be missed," the President said.
On the 2010 population census, President Kufuor said his government had already started reflecting on how to generate the resources for its implementation and urged his colleagues to do same.
According to the United Nations, the national population census conducted in African countries between 1995 and 2004 covered less than 60 percent of the population on the continent.
President Kufuor said if four in 10 of the continent's estimated population was not covered in any census count, the outcome of the planning process was bound to fail.
"This situation is detrimental to the progress of individual countries and the African continent as a whole," he said.
Dr Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, urged colleague statisticians not to forget about gender at the various stages of the production process.
She said the census presented a good framework to integrate the gender issues into statistical practices.
Mr Makane Kane, UNFPA Representative, Ghana, urged countries to make firm commitments and leadership by integrating censuses in their overall development programmes.