Statistical capacity is the ability of countries to meet user needs for good quality statistics – usually those statistics that are consider to be “official” (i.e. those statistics produced by governments as a public good). Timely and reliable statistics are a key part of development, particularly the broad development strategies that are often referred to as “managing for results”. The overarching strategy is guided by a global action plan (commonly referred to as the Marrakech Action Plan for Statistics or MAPS) to improve national and international statistics agreed during the Second Roundtable on Measuring for Results, held in Marrakech, Morocco, February 2004.
Perhaps Trevor Manual, South Africa’s former Finance Minister, puts the case for accurate and reliable statistics best:
“Whether we wish to adjust the size of our fiscal deficit, increase social spending, pursue macroeconomic convergence in the region, or assess progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, accurate, timely, useful data lie at the heart of all these efforts… Achieving the right policies requires the management of trade-offs informed by good statistics.”