A high-powered delegation from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) UK has held talks
with the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai at his Tower Hill office in Freetown.
The call on the minister past Thursday February 6th drew down the curtain on a four-day working visit to Sierra Leone by the team.
Presenting the team to Minister Kaikai, Prof Osman Sankoh (Mallam 0) who is the Statistician-General of Statistics-Sierra Leone said the team was in the country on a working visit to familiarise themselves with the operations of his administration for collaboration.
He said the visit by the UK team was borne out of prior engagement with that country’s National Statistics Office on the need for collaboration. He disclosed that discussions had been on for over a year to pull off and establish this partnership and that he is pleased that the team finally was able to come to Sierra Leone to do an assessment of Stats SL.
“This is a cordial relationship that we have developed with the UK National Statistics Office from which we hope to benefit greatly especially in terms of the required technical expertise needed to do our work,” Malam O told Minister Kaikai.
Welcoming the team and Statistics officials, Dr Francis Kai-Kai expressed satisfaction over the visit, saying it demonstrates the UK Government’s commitment to strengthening institutions in Sierra Leone. He said the visit could not have come at a better time and thanked the team for thinking about Stats SL as an institution worth supporting.
The minister noted that the New Direction administration was very reliant on Statistics office for providing accurate and informed data which he said serve as guiding principle in the Mid Term National Development Plan developed by his ministry.
“There is no way a government in this modern age can function without data. It is the only tool that guides government in the implementation of its policies and programmes.”
He once more thanked the team for the visit, as he looked forward to the establishment of a stronger cooperation between the two National Statistics Offices.
The UK team headed by Dr Craig McLaren, included Emily Poskett and Mike Prestwood, all staff of the UK ONS.
Dr Craig McLaren informed the Minister of how insightful and informative their visit has been. He stressed that the purpose of their visit was to get first-hand knowledge on Stats SL priorities, challenges and future plans and to identify how the UK Office of National Statistics’ collaboration can fit in.
The team leader said the four-day visit helped the delegation understand the difficulties faced in generating official and credible statistics data by Statistics SL. He said it was ‘quite enlightening’ and that the visit has made them understand most of the challenges faced by Stats SL.
During their stay in Sierra Leone, the UK team held talks with the management of Stats SL to understand the work of the institution and possibly identify means of collaboration. They also visited the southern regional city of Bo where they held a stakeholder engagement with Stats SL regional staff, partners and other MDAs