Shimuafeni wants digital surveys to cut costs

19 Jul 2016 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 19 JUL (NAMPA) - There is a need to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) during surveys to curb costs and ensure the accuracy and quality of data, Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) Statistician-General Alex Shimuafeni says.
Speaking to Nampa on Tuesday, Shimuafeni said paper-based surveys are a costly undertaking for the NSA, and has also proven to be ineffective and time consuming in recent years.
He conceded that digital surveys are becoming a global phenomenon, adding that Namibia should follow suit to enable the collection of quality, effective and timeous information.
“We do not have a choice because paper-based surveys are quite costly and even the printing of the data and the entry into the system is costly and time consuming,” said Shimuafeni.
The NSA is a public institution tasked with the collection, evaluation and keeping of national data.
Paper-based surveys involve using pen and paper to conduct surveys, while digital surveys allow for the utilisation of computers or tablets for this purpose.
Shimuafeni added that paper-based surveys are also prone to human error.
He said in contrast, digital surveys allow for information to be disseminated faster, which ensure improved security of data and cost effectiveness.
“If for example, you are a male the system automatically omits questions such as ‘do you breastfeed?’ for example, so it is faster and very effective,” he stressed.
However various challenge such as human resources, unstable telecommunication network and the capacity of stakeholders could be a hindrance, Shimuafeni said.
“We have a shortage of Information Technology skills in terms of programming and the instability of the network as well. So we have to address those issues going forward,” he urged.
The Statistician-General urged institutions such as private schools, non-governmental organisations and private companies to avail information required from them during surveys.
He said the NSA has in the past experienced various delays due to non-compliance by private institutions.
“Private institutions are not currently compelled to provide data and this situation means we do not get a true reflection, for example of enrolment figures [at schools] countrywide,” he said.