Two years ago Ghana's statistical service announced it was revising its GDP estimates upwards by over 60%, suggesting that in the previous estimates about US$13bn worth's of economic activity had been missed. As a result, Ghana was suddenly upgraded from a low to lower-middle-income country. In response, Todd Moss, the development scholar and blogger at the Center of Global Development in Washington DC, exclaimed: "Boy, we really don't know anything!"
Shanta Devarajan, the World Bank's Chief Economist for Africa, struck a more dramatic tone. In an address to a conference organised by Statistics South Africa, he called the current state of affairs "Africa's statistical tragedy"Concluding:
It is a real tragedy that the statistical capacities of sub-Saharan African economies are in such a poor state. African development statistics tell us less than we would like to think about income, poverty and growth in the region. One of the most urgent challenges in African economic development is to devise a strategy for improving statistical capacity. This system currently causes more confusion than enlightenment. However, governments, international organisations and independent analysts need these development statistics to track and monitor efforts at improving living conditions ...[view whole blog post ]