By Emily Poskett, Office for National Statistics

1. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has partnerships supporting statistical modernisation in National Statistical Offices (NSOs) in Africa

Each is a true peer-to-peer partnership, working together in order to facilitate genuine change. We have prioritised countries with which the UK government, led by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has a strong relationship, and where the NSO themselves has the necessary drive to modernise. These collaborative relationships are looked after by the ONS’s International Development Team (IDT).

Our partnership with the Ghana Statistical Service (another Government Statistical Service!) is showcased in this short video. Some of the main achievements of this partnership include improving the geospatial quality and coverage for their upcoming Census; improving public policy analysis to support national development and evidence-based decision-making in Ghana; and professionalising communications at the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS).

2. A further partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) enables us to have an even wider reach

Our partnership with the UNECA Africa Centre for Statistics enables the lessons we have learned to have wider reach across the continent.

ONS has run and fed into UNECA workshops, provided direct and joint technical advice, and been able to link up partners to impact on the quality of censuses across Africa as part of the 2020 census round, ensuring that African NSOs get maximum benefit from digital data collection.

3. The ONS Data Science Campus has a hub dedicated to international development work

The Data Science Hub is part of the ONS Data Science Campus – but based within the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It was launched in 2019 to use data science and new data sources to support international development. The hub has three areas of focus:

  1. Building tools to deliver data to decision makers. Examples include using machine learning and satellite imagery to estimate the numbers of cattle in South Sudan, where traditional agricultural surveys are difficult to complete; and using information from ship transponders to measure visits of vessels to ports in East Africa to provide indicators of port efficiency and proxies for economic activity.
  2. Delivering data science training. This ranges from advocating for the use of data science to senior policy makers, to building capacity in techniques such as natural language processing, machine learning or geospatial analysis. The hub also provides training in R and Python coding.
  3. Mentoring analysts in developing countries or in development organisations. The hub identifies and supports analysts, for example in African statistics offices, who want to deliver data science projects. Hub data scientists work alongside them providing advice and support, for example to automate statistical processes (trade statistics in Rwanda, economic statistics in Kenya, consumer price indices in Ghana) and using geospatial analysis and satellite imagery to improve the measurement of agriculture in Rwanda.

4. The UK is increasing transparency of data on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around the world

ONS co-develops Open SDG, an open source, free-to-reuse multilingual tool for collecting and reporting disaggregated SDG data.

We also support developing countries to set up their own data websites using Open SDG. Globally the tool is being used by at least 22 countries, regions and cities, with 11 of these countries being eligible for overseas development assistance.

This blog was first published as part of a blog by the Government Analysis Function.