A history of the production of statistics in Zambia, 1939-2018

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Santebe, Mbozi
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University of the Free State
This thesis examines the development of statistics in Zambia in the period 1939-2018. It builds on studies concerned with the quality of data produced in Africa by unravelling the main forces that shaped the making of numbers. The thesis argues that external forces such as British colonial rule, and later the United Nations, donor countries and regional organisations shaped data priorities and funding of statistical enquiries. The United Nations also dominated the formulation of concepts, methods and classifications used to collect and process data. Nonetheless, internal dynamics also played a role in statistical development as the local environment determined the availability of requisite data and the application of international frameworks. Besides, locally-based statisticians made critical choices and decisions in data collection and processing while political players at times censored the circulation of data and the implementation of statistical reforms. The thesis further contends that statistical development was uneven across subjects and time. From the aftermath of the Second World War to the 1970s, the construction of national accounts and related indices expanded while other datasets received little attention. Whereas the production of statistics generally declined in the 1980s in the context of the economic crisis and the one-party state, some datasets were sustained in the same period. Furthermore, the onset of Structural Adjustment Programmes and the Poverty Reduction Strategy tilted statistical priorities towards data on human welfare and social indicators. The thesis also argues that the quality of statistics was uneven depending on the availability of required data. Often, statistics were weakened by the inadequacy of requisite information that complicated data processing and dissemination. Such difficulties negatively affected policy making, public service delivery, as well as local and international development programmes that often depended on incomplete data.
Thesis (Ph.D. (Centre for Africa Studies))--University of the Free State, 2021, Statistics -- Zambia