The story of Africa is mainly told through numbers we do not own. These numbers represent each child born, each teenager entering the workforce, each adult marrying and starting a family, and each death from a disease that has been eradicated in richer countries.
These numbers currently belong not to our national statistical offices, but, in part, to our donors. They are often used to justify aid funding. If this continent is to reach its full potential, we must take ownership of these numbers so that we can plan for our own people.
The paucity of data collected has given rise to a host of parallel systems put in place to satisfy donor requirements. It also limits our potential. Because we don’t accurately count births, for example, we fail to provide education for our youth, adding to urban unemployment as young people with limited skills flood cities.