GDP Data Ratings

Ratings of GDP Accuracy in Africa

World Economics
16 June 2019

The quality of economic data in Africa is very variable. Mauritius, Morocco and Algeria publish consistently good quality data, ranking high by international standards. There are significant quality issues with data produced in Nigeria, Cameroon and The Gambia. And at the extreme end of the scale, data produced in the Central African Republic and Republic of Congo is likely to be of little value in describing prevailing economic conditions..

► See the Data Quality Ratings table for Africa

Why GDP Quality is Very Important

GDP data have been described as “The World’s Most Powerful Numbers“1. We wouldn’t take issue with that description.

GDP data are, without question, of crucial importance. GDP data are used by Governments everywhere to help make policy decisions affecting millions; to direct governmental aid flows; and in many other ways. GDP data are used by banks, financial organisations of all kinds and businesses the world over to help make investment decisions, as a base for base corporate strategy, and for many other tasks.

Yet few countries achieve the standards set internationally by the United Nations, or keep up to date with recommended best practice. Even when data meets UN standards, most measures of GDP are flawed conceptually, in the way they are collected and presented, to an extent that few realise (further papers will review the conceptual problems underlying GDP data).

This paper sets out only to review which GDP data sets in Africa are reliable in relation to basic standards, including base years used (basing data on a 25 year old snapshot of economic activity isn’t likely to produce accurate data); which UN ordained System of National Accounts (SNA) they use (some still use 1993 standards – a pre Amazon, Facebook and Google era); how much informal economic activity may remain uncounted (maybe up to 50%); and var


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