Information and communication technology (ICT) has to be the tool that powers the data revolution that will be used for the sustainable development of regional economies.
This was the view articulated by Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, at the opening ceremony of the Second High Level Advocacy Forum on Statistics held in St George’s, Grenada on Monday.
The data revolution, aimed at improving the quality of statistics available to citizens, was one of the recommendations of a High level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Agenda that was established by the United Nations Secretary-General.
A report, completed by the panel, also emphasized the need to take advantage of new technology, crowd sourcing and improved connectivity to empower people with information.
Donning his cap as the lead Head of Government with responsibility for science and technology in the CARICOM quasi cabinet, Mitchell referred to the potency of ICT in propelling the region forward quickly and more effectively.
“ICT must be the engine to achieve what is desired,” he told participants who included top government officials from across the community, and representatives from regional and international organisations.
He added that the use of ICT in statistics had to be considered in the context of the region’s single ICT space that is to be established to enhance the environment for investment and production.
ICT, he said, had the “great potential” to transform national and regional statistics systems, confront data challenges, cut costs, and reduce the time spend on collecting and producing solid data.
“I would like to encourage us to continue thinking of creative and innovative ways to revolutionize our statistical processes through the use of ICT in our national and regional strategic plans,” the Prime Minister said.
Young bright students, he added, must see an exciting career path in statistics and information and be attracted to pursue careers in this area.
Dr Philomen Harrison, project director, regional statistics, also honed in on the importance of the data revolution at the forum.
“Data are all around us, notably big data is now with us, data that are generally collected by huge corporations or by credit card companies, through online shopping and in the use of social networks and which are all likely to impact official statistics,” she pointed out.
She called attention to the need to give voice to the data revolution in the CARICOM context, and pointed out that within the CARICOM Secretariat, there was an Office, Regional Statistics, that was completely dedicated to compiling and disseminating data for and from the CARICOM Member States and Associate Members.
“Without such data, countries and the Region cannot plan policy and forecast our future whether in economic, social or financial sectors. Statistics is a basic cross-cutting factor and involves all levels of policy,” she pointed out.