Better Lives 2030: Mobilising the Power of Data for Africa and the World

Date of event: 
May 19, 2020 - May 21, 2020
Submission deadline: 
January 21, 2020
Location: 
Avani Hotel, Livingstone, Zambia

The International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS), the International Statistical Institute (ISI) and the Republic of Zambia Central Statistical Office are pleased to announce the call for papers for the 2020 Conference Better Lives 2030: Mobilising the Power of Data for Africa and the World. Bringing together statisticians and all those in government, universities and education who care about the value of statistics to society.

We have selected seven themes:

  1. Future of Statistics for Africa: statistics that leave no one behind
  2. Skills for Africa in the era of data
  3. Official statistics in society: they matter to all of us
  4. Big data. Opportunities arising from the new data ecosystem.
  5. Statistics making a difference: public health, prevent and cure
  6. Statistics making a difference: environment and climate
  7. Statistics making a difference: from data to progress

More information about each theme is shown below.

The conference programme has been designed to deliver:

  • A forward looking prospectus for statistics to help improve decision making over the next 10 years
  • An opportunity to bring together diverse communities to foster innovation and partnership
  • A focus on Africa through Agenda 2063 and the SDGs
  • Capacity building in Zambia and across the region

Proposals
Session and Paper proposals

You are invited to submit any of the following:

  1. Proposal for a session, lasting 90 minutes in total and including three or four speakers plus a discussant. Please indicate the strand chosen, the title of the proposed session, a half-a-page abstract, the list of speakers with affiliation and link to web page (if possible).
  2. Contributed individual paper, which will be organised in special topic sessions. Please indicate the strand, the title of the proposed paper and a half-a-page abstract.
  3. Contributed individual poster. Please indicate the strand, the title of the proposed poster and a half-a-page abstract.

In all cases please indicate your own name, your affiliation, your email address, your phone number and your web-page, if available.

Proposals should be sent to zambiastats2020@gmail.com by 21 January 2020 (Extended deadline). Please send a single file (pdf, word, text, etc) with the required information. The Scientific Programme Committee will consider the proposals and inform you of the outcome (acceptance or not) by end January 2020. If selected, final materials for the conference proceedings need to be submitted by end April 2020.

Pre and Post conference workshops, side events or meetings

The main programme will run over three full days.  There is also potential for side events, relevant to the themes, before or after the main event. Suggestions for pre-and post-conference workshops, events or meetings should be also send to zambiastats2020@gmail.com by 31 December 2019, with a clear description of the proposed content and organisation of the event. Please indicate your own name, your affiliation, your email address, your phone number and your web-page, if available. The Scientific Programme Committee will consider the proposals and inform you of the outcome (acceptance or not) by end of January 2020.  The Scientific Programme Committee reserves the right to combine events.

Conference Themes

Strand 1: “Future of Statistics for Africa: statistics that leave no one behind”
Agenda 2063 sets out the vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.   This strand will explore how statistics can help guide decision makers to realise this vision.  Five years into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and with only ten years to go to 2030, how can relevant, comprehensive and disaggregated statistics assist in understanding who is getting left behind and what needs to be done to ensure that they are not? Providing the necessary statistical information at a time of considerable change requires fundamental questions to be asked about the future of the census and other domains of official statistics and methodology.

Subthemes include:

  • How can statistics help guide decision makers to realize the Agenda 2063 vision?
  • How can statistics assist in understanding who is getting left behind and what needs to be done to ensure that they are not?
  • How are we realizing the benefits of the data revolution? Are we prepared for future changes in the data ecosystem?
  • The 2020 Census round is in full swing. The census is a once in a decade opportunity to ensure that all are counted. What is the future for the census?
  • Where should we be going with surveys and use of administrative data? What is the future role of non-official sources of data? What new methods will we need?

Strand 2: “Skills for Africa in the era of data”
The data revolution has changed the supply and paradigms for how we access and use information and data. How can we develop competence for the young generations? How can we help professionals, leaders, politicians, journalists, engineers and officials to update their skills to fully benefit from modern data? In addition to papers, this strand would consider opportunities for workshops, training courses and other engagement activities for young generations.

Sub-themes include:

  • Equipping our children to succeed in a data rich world. What are the skills they need and how can we ensure that they are developed?
  • Statistical offices struggle to develop and retain junior staff. How can we ensure that the future of official statistics is safeguarded by bringing on the next generation of professional staff?
  • How can we help leaders need to understand the potential of data and data analytics? Leaders in statistics increasingly need to have deep technical credibility, strong management competence and the ability to navigate a complex and hazardous political landscape. How can we support them in getting the skills they need?
  • The public often receive official statistics through the medium of journalism. How can we support journalists to write better, more compelling (and accurate) stories about numbers?
  • To be an effective citizen we need to be able to make sense of statistics and to be sceptical of statistical claims. How do we foster statistical literacy for all?

Strand 3: “Official statistics in society: they matter to all of us”
In a crowded space, how do we ensure that the message of official statistics cuts through and is understood by all, and that official statisticians listen and provide statistics that resonate and are relevant to people’s lives?

Sub-themes include:

  • How do we communicate the role of official statistics and engage with politicians, media and civil society? How do we address issues of autonomy, independence and relevance and protect the position of the national statistics office and its leaders?
  • To help decision makers, statistics need to connect with politicians and be able to be used to hold them to account. What are the mechanisms that support this?
  • For official statistics to truly serve democracy, good engagement is also needed with the media and civil society. How can we work together?
  • How do we make the case for autonomy and independence for official statistics and find a voice that protects the position of the national statistics office and its leaders?

Strand 4: “Big data. Opportunities arising from the new data ecosystem.”
To succeed in the new data ecosystem there needs to be a strong partnership between official statistics and other actors, including in data science and artificial intelligence. How can we build such partnerships?

Sub-themes include:

  • How can we make a success of partnerships and coordination in the emerging data ecosystem?
  • Capacity within the system is far below what is needed to respond to the agenda in front of us. How do we make the case for resources, develop new business models that better match demand and supply and find ways to enhance the capability of the system?
  • The new ecosystem demands new rules. What part can statisticians play in areas like data ethics where we have both much to offer and much to learn if we are to navigate successfully and sustain public confidence?

Strand 5: “Statistics making a difference: public health, prevent and cure”
Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being at all ages is essential to sustainable development states Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 3. The aim is that we achieve each SDG target by 2030. Statistics plays a growing role in producing the analytical and operative tools to reach the goal. Progress in and use of statistics will save the lives of millions of people. Topics covered in this strand will address in particular Africa’s public health crisis, the world’s most acute one.

Strand 6: “Statistics making a difference: environment and climate”
Several SDGs point to the urgency to face the climate crises which we have produced ourselves:

  • SDG 6 aims to achieve clean, accessible water for all
  • SDG 7 calls for affordable and clean energy
  • SDG 13 states that the world needs climate actions, because climate change is a global challenge that affects everyone, everywhere
  • SDG 14 promotes a careful management of our oceans and of life under water, as a global resource for all
  • SDG 15 is about life on land, and the importance to protect forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss.

Statistics contributes fundamentally to all these goals with powerful methods and practical instruments for a sustainable future. Topics covered in this strand will describe how statistics helps to solve these challenges.

Strand 7: “Statistics making a difference: from data to progress”
Despite extraordinary advances in the collection of data and processing of information, much of the potential residing in contemporary data sources remains unexploited. Fulfilling the promise of the big data revolution, statistics and machine learning produce new methodologies and analytical tools to extract knowledge from complex data to deliver insight. There is a dramatic scope for industries, companies, public and private, and for nations to create value from employing novel ways of analysing complex data.

The digitalisation of African societies and economies is proceeding rapidly and we are preparing to exploit data for the benefit of its people. Innovation in all sectors of the African economy will benefit from statistical approaches. Topics covered in this strand will focus on exploiting data for progress and development and propose methods and algorithms which allow understanding and predicting systems and processes.

An important subtheme is statistical education and training of new generations, to deliver statistical competence and capacity for progress.

More information
Contact the organisers at zambiastats2020@gmail.com.