Dr. Augustino Ting Mayai (File photo)

New Bureau of Statistics chief vows to improve data credibility

Newly appointed Chairperson of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Dr. Augustino Ting Mayai has vowed to improve the country’s statistical system.

Newly appointed Chairperson of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Dr. Augustino Ting Mayai has vowed to improve the country’s statistical system.

In April 2023, the Bureau of Statistics published a Population Estimation Survey showing the country’s population has risen by more than four million to 12.4 million people. The country’s last census was in 2008, when it was still an autonomous region of Sudan.

Following the release of the survey, a number of opposition politicians and some in the civil society questioned the estimates that put the total of the country’s population to 12,444,018 and demanded what they term “a proper census” as per the 2018 peace agreement. UN estimates had put the population at 11,556,069.

Speaking during his reception in Juba on Monday, Dr. Mayai said the improvement of the statistical system will enable official data to be more comprehensive, accurate and credible in capturing various economic trends in the country.

“The NBS has not done any work associated with data collection and analysis since 2010 because there are no resources to make this happen but we are required as a statistical agency to produce statistics for our national need, elections included, as well as understanding where we stand in terms of international obligations such as on sustainable development goals,” said Mayai.

“And for us to make this happen and to live to our obligation and to live up to the obligation of the international community, we must provide resources to this institution,” he added.

Mayai emphasized the significance of statistics in describing social, economic and environmental situations, which he said will improve the wellbeing and opportunities for the citizens of South Sudan.

“The most important element or the task of the National Bureau of Statistics is to make sure our economy is well understood. How it is behaving and measuring it correctly helps us in making economic decisions such as providing welfare to those who need it. This is not happening. We are supposed to be agriculture-heavy economically, so understanding why agriculture is an important task that the Bureau will be undertaking,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Joseph Geng Akech, Minister of Youth and Sports who doubled up as the official guest of honour at the function urged the new Bureau of Statistics chief to put in place measures to motivate staff to be more efficient.

“Initial programs to build on the capacity of the staff and exposing them to experiences that you have is more important. Give them the motivation they need so that they can grow. Uncle Isaiah (former NBS boss) has done a lot under difficult circumstances and we thank you very much for staying on course for those 20 years I think the referendum you spoke about couldn’t be achieved if you had not uttered that advice to our President,” said Geng.

 He said the upcoming general elections will depend on data from the National Bureau of Statistics. 

South Sudan is expected hold its elections in December this year.

President Salva Kiir is expected to face his longstanding rival, First Vice President Riek Machar, who has yet to confirm his candidacy.

The opposition has accused the Kiir administration of lacking the political will to hold elections. But Kiir said he is committed to free and fair elections in December.