Prime Minister says leveraging big data sources can expand access to information

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The Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente Thursday called on all stakeholders to work together and leverage big data sources to expand access to information and promote public good.

Opening the 5th International Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics in Kigali, Ngirente mentioned the growing demand for more details and timely information.

“It is now the right moment for all of us, policymakers, private sector, civil society, statistics offices, international organizations, academicians and others, to work together and leverage these big data sources to expand access to information and promote public good,” he said.

Big data is a term referring to extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.

Big Data holds significant potential to solve the challenges to more detailed and timely data and statistics for decision making. Currently, it is possible that the ever-increasing use of ICT, and the big data it creates, can enrich the supply of official statistics, the premier said.

The 5th International Conference on Big Data for official statistics runs from April 29 to May 3.

Co-organized by the United Nations Global Working Group (GWG) on Big Data for Official Statistics and the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, the conference brought together about 500 participants from around the globe including policy makers, statisticians and data scientists among others.

Ngirente called on governments to invest in necessary infrastructure and capacity building initiatives that will allow statistics offices and other stakeholders to benefit from the growing supply of big data.
The conference is a good opportunity to discuss global statistical development issues.

The first three days of the conference were devoted to training workshops for African countries and a seminar of activities of a Data Science Campus for official statistics, according to a statement from the United Nations Global Working Group (GWG) on Big Data for Official Statistics.

Since April 29, technical sessions on new global trends and technologies have been taking place.

The last two days of the week are for keynote speakers and several high-level panels.
Statistics and data for informed decisions is paramount, premier Ngirente said.

He explained that the Rwandan Government in partnership with development partners has consistently invested in official statistics development, production, analysis and dissemination because the use of statistics is vital in informing policies and evaluating government programs.

“As of today, our investment in statistics is yielding good results. We are seeing a growing culture and practice of using statistics across the public and private sector in Rwanda for decision making,” he said.

He cited Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation that was launched in September 2017 and the country’s Vision 2050 among the projects which were inspired, among others, by statistics.

In April 2017, the Government of Rwanda approved the Data Revolution Policy.
The policy focuses on building big data and analytics capabilities to derive insights that contribute to enormous social-economic benefits including informed policy decision making, enhancing transparency and promoting citizen participation, GDP contribution, and Sustainable Development Goals.

The Prime Minister, however, cautioned that though big data play a key role in countries’ development, there is need to remember that some dimensions of big data are sensitive and their misuse may harm individuals, institutions, and even national development.

He called on National Statistical Systems to invest in strengthening legal and policy frameworks that ease data sharing while building strong standards for data ethics and protection, to expand data access and ensure appropriate use.

Earlier, the Prime Minister inaugurated the first-ever Data Science Campus in Rwanda was at NISR headquarters in Kigali.

The major objective of the Data Science Campus in Rwanda is to enable data openness, integration and interoperability though legal and policy frameworks, according to NISR.

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