Bolstering the capacity of regional statistical institutions in Africa: the example of AFRISTAT
Since the 1960s, France has lent support to the statistical systems of its former colonies in sub‑Saharan Africa by dispatching technical assistants to their ministries. A 1989 assessment highlighted the mismatch between such aid, which, although supplemented by advanced training for numerous statisticians and development of customised tools, had not triggered any real development of the statistical systems of the beneficiary countries. As a result, France suggested that technical assistance be concentrated in a regional centre to bolster its effectiveness, and that there be a gradual shift from the assistance of substitution to capacity building.
In 1993, France supported the initiative of 14 franc zone members to create the Economic and Statistical Observatory of Sub‑Saharan Africa (AFRISTAT), whose “objective is to reinforce development of economic, social and environmental statistics in member States and to improve their competence in these areas”. The initial phase of AFRISTAT’s installation was funded by France. Thereafter, an original financing mechanism was set in place involving a ten‑year fund supported by subscriptions from the member countries and from France, to provide uninterrupted funding for activities without the constraints of annual budgets. (Box 11 p.96)