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Survey on Access to African Government Microdata for Social Science Research

Presenter 1
Lynn Woolfrey
University of Cape Town

Governments mandate their National Statistics Offices to collect empirical data to determine appropriate policies. Re-use of this data for research can provide input regarding the effectiveness of government action. In Western Europe and North America policies and institutions support the efficient collection and sharing of official data for research purposes. In Africa the sharing of government microdata is constrained by several obstacles. African National Statistics Offices have limited resources to curate microdata and ensure its long-term availability. Consequently many African data producers do not follow international best practice with regard to survey data management or share the microdata from the surveys they conduct. This was confirmed by a survey conducted in order to investigate the availability of survey microdata from African National Statistics Offices for research. A further obstacle to access to government microdata in Africa is inadequate producer-user communication channels. Concerns around the confidentiality of respondent information also present a barrier to data usage for research, as does the bureaucratic nature of government institutions involved in data production in African countries. Access to official microdata for research requires sound data usage policies driven by African decision-makers who appreciate the role of information utilisation in national development.

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