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Sunday, November 26, 2023

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 The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu, has reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to digitise Nigeria’s statistical system.

Bagudu said this at the closing of the Pilot Phase of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Digitisation Project in Abuja on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the project is a pilot initiative to digitise themonthly prices data collection to produce the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and it is supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa(UNECA).

The minister said President Bola Tinubu was leading and appreciating the digitisation of government services.

“Not only will the NBS be supported to migrate from technical assistance and support from the UNECA but it will also be supported with the government’s processes to ensure it takes this further.

“Also for the NBS to leverage on other resources available in the ecosystem so they can make haste quickly.

“Computer-assisted price information gathering is very important, it enhances timeliness and equally and importantly integrity and ability to audit the information itself.

“Be assured of the government’s support. But take advantage of what is elsewhere in the governmental system. ”

He thanked UNECA for their support while appreciating the independence of the NBS with regard to methodology, timing, and process.

“We will be happy to see them all digitised in a way that both the domestic and international users of our data will have more confidence,” he said.

The Statistician-General of the Federation, Prince Adeyemi Adeniran, said in a global landscape characterised by economic uncertainties, the imperative forreliable and comprehensive price data could not be overstated.

“The digitisation of the CPI data collection in NBS introduced a new era of quality refinement and aligns perfectly well with our agenda at the bureau.

“Which is to enhance our technical operations, through the use of modern methods and techniques, as well as, adopting the latest standards and concepts throughout our data landscape.

“By automating this process for our most common and frequently produced indicator, we would have significantly reduced the potential for errors and inconsistencies, which are inherent in the manual process.

“This enhancement is not merely a technological convenience; it is a commitment to ensuring that the information upon which crucial economic decisions are made of the highest quality, providing a solid foundation for policy formulation.”

Adeniran said the initiative, with its automated checks and validations,ensured a level of precision that was previously challenging to achieve through manual methods.

He said the result would be a CPI that mirrored the true fluctuations in market prices, empowering policymakers with the confidence to make decisions that resonate with the realities of Nigeria’s economic landscape.

“Our ongoing CPI rebasing, which involves the total reconstruction of the consumer basket of items and a digital updating of the list of market outlets across the country, will revolutionise our price statistics in Nigeria.”

In addition, he said the digitisation would allow for real-time entry and analysis of price statistics in the field, thereby enhancing the bureau’s ability to report the data faster.

“This will provide policymakers with the ability to respond swiftly to economic shifts and issues, enabling proactive decision-making that can mitigate the impact of inflation and engender sustainable economic growth, he said.

Anjana Dube, the Senior Regional Adviser, ECA, in his remarks, said the focus of the mission was the digitisation of CPI data collection with a special focus on introduction and orientation to the Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) software.

Dube said that the focus was also on capacity building of managers and data collectors to use mobile applications to collect CPI data and monitor and export CAPI CPI data.

He said the project which started in 2022, had three missions undertaken in Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt and a total of 55 participants were trained.

Dr Ayo Anthony, Head Prices Statistics Division, NBS, said since the inception of NBS, the paper Assisted Personal Interviewing(PAPI) has been used for collection of price items consumed by households monthly.

Anthony said the PAPI had come with its own challenges which included the bulkiness of the papers, loss of data when transporting them to zones, high cost of printing, lack of storage space, delays and errors in data entry process.

He, however, said the transition of PAPI to CAPI was a step in the right direction and the transition to CAPI would be in April 2024.

“The CAPI is user-friendly, less cost and infrastructure requirements, real-time, monitors live data and visualisations and collects GPS, audio, video, image, and time stamps.

“Transmission of CPI data collection from PAPI to CAPI will enhance the compilation and the computation of CPI. Hence, we are eager to transmit immediately.”

Matthias Schmale, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, represented by Nonso Obiliki, Economist, Resident Coordinator’s Office, pledged to continue to support the NBS in their CPI and digitisation process.

Godstime Eigbiremolen, Word Bank Representative, said the role of the CPI could not be overemphasised, adding that the digitisation process would go a long way in ensuring the bureau achieved its mandate.

James Mackreides
James Mackreides
'Mac' is a short tempered former helicopter pilot , now a writer based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Loves dogs, the outdoors and staying far away from the ocean.

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