The African Development Bank (AfDB), as the premier developmental organization in the continent, supports its 54 regional member countries to reduce levels of poverty and boost economic and social progress. Reliable and timely data are vital not only for formulating the AfDB’s own strategies, and for monitoring the outcomes of its programs and projects, but also for all those who wish to ensure the continent’s future positive growth trajectory. This includes key policymakers in African countries, central banks and non-governmental organizations, subregional and regional organizations, UN agencies, multinational organizations, as well as external donors and investors.
The Africa Information Highway (AIH) was created by the AfDB to scale up the collection, management, and dissemination of quality statistics relating to Africa. This was in response to calls at various regional conferences to improve the availability and quality of statistics across the continent, as the lack of reliable statistical data was constraining development and deterring investment. The AfDB, through its status as knowledge center for regional developmental data, was the natural choice of organization to host this initiative. The ultimate aim of AIH is to scale up Africa’s participation in the global economy and improve its competitiveness, as well as boosting social advancement.
Initiated in November 2012, the Africa Information Highway had two main objectives: 1) to establish live data links between the AfDB and National Statistical Agencies, central banks and line ministries, and 2) to link countries with each other and with external development partners. The rationale behind the initiative was to facilitate data collection and exchange, validation, analysis and dissemination using the highest international standards and guidelines. The AIH not only improves access to statistical data and metadata on African countries, but also enhances the quality of the country data by rendering it internationally comparable, harmonized, open to analytical investigation, and more transparent.
The year 2013 saw the completion of common IT platforms across 54 regional countries and 16 subregional organizations. Statistical data on all 54 African countries are now available via the Bank’s dedicated data portal, which also includes a data submission tool for seamless transfer of information by African countries and a variety of functional tools tailored to users’ own analytical needs. The Africa Information Highway makes the information freely available and encourages debate between the producers and users of statistics.