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Quality data, low costs a priority for KNBS boss

By Wainaina Wambu | November 3rd 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

From left: KNBS outgoing Director-General Zachary Mwangi, Chairman Peter Kiguta and incoming boss Macdonald Obudho during the handover ceremony, yesterday. [Stafford Ondego]

The new national statistician, MacDonald Obudho, has committed to firm up data collection and cut costs.

Obudho took over from Zachary Mwangi yesterday as the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) director-general.

Mwangi had served for six years and oversaw a digitised census and the development of economic indicators such as the County Gross Domestic Product.

Obudho said there was room for improvement in the dissemination of quality of data. “We want to ensure that the level of our data collection goes up … the way we disseminate data goes high up; that’s one area we’ve not been good at making sure the quality of our statistics goes up,” he said.

Obudho is a KNBS insider, having joined the organisation in 1995. He has served in various positions, including his recent post as the agency’s director in charge of population and social statistics.

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He said it was time KNBS had its own building dubbed “Statistics House” instead of paying wasteful rent. KNBS previously operated from Herufi House, Nyayo House, and Bima House.

It has since moved all operations to Real Towers, Upper Hill. “With good space in the right place, we should be able to construct. In a situation where it's not available, we should be able to buy,” he said.

Obudho has also committed KNBS to innovation and use of technology as it moves to a paperless operation. He said they have developed measurement tools such as computer-assisted telephone interviewing key, owing to the prevention of the spread of Covid-19.

The surveys, he noted, were now being done with ease.

KNBS has also developed a statistical tool to measure the impact of Covid-19.

“The frame that we were running before required physical contact between the interviewer and interviewee, but because of restrictions we now have computer-assisted telephone interviews. This allows KNBS to run and generate data even when there are restrictions on movement,” said Obudho.

He said they had also customised international standards. The outgoing director-general oversaw the generation of many products and economic indicators. These include foreign direct investment survey and other economic and socio-democratic indicators.

Mwangi noted that quality and timeliness of data had improved and rooted for alternative data sources. “We are in the place where we not only have official statistics, but also other producers of statistics engage them,” said Mwangi.

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