By Emmanuel Elebeke
The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS is to commence National Business Survey after 22 years.
The statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale announced this on Monday while delivering a keynote address at the Training of Trainers for the National Business Sample Census (NBSC) 2020 in Abuja.
Kale said the information emanating from the census activity would be primarily useful in understanding the nature and structure of the economy, as well as providing a sound business frame for the conduct of economic surveys in the country.
The Business Census also known as an Economic Census is a statistical exercise that involves the enumeration of formal and informal business establishments across the country.
During this process, commercial and industrial business operations in fixed locations would be listed with valuable information including the nature of the economic activity of the establishments, the number of employees they engage, their contact details, amongst other things, are expected to be collected during the exercise.
Conventionally, the exercise is conducted every 5 years, as recommended by the United Nations Statistical Commission, however in Nigeria, the census has not been conducted for over two decades, mainly due to funding challenges.
He said, ”This event for me is really a huge delight, not only for the fact that we are finally able to commence this long awaited and immensely important activity, but also, this is one exercise that I personally promised to complete before I leave this seat.
”Knowing the critical importance of the exercise, not just to the statistical system in Nigeria, but to the entire economy, since my appointment into this position, we have sought for different ways and means to actualize this census. Our pursuit for this finally paid off, thanks to the World Banks’s Fiscal Governance and Institutions Project (FGIP), which graciously accommodated the Business census, as well as the Agricultural census, which we plan to conduct early next year.
”This training event today is unique. It is an important stage in the data production process. It is the stage at which the personnel who will be sent to the field to train the data collectors are equipped with the knowledge and processes of the survey or census. The ToT will jointly serves as a publicity event for the business census.
”Everyone, including individuals, households, business owners, organisations as well as policymakers at all levels need to be fully aware and support this exercise for it to be truly successful. This is what has informed the steps taken so far in the planning and preparation of this census.”
He noted that the entire built up area in the country has been digitally carved into manageable segments and mapped out appropriately with numberings across all local governments and states, adding that this is a first for the statistical system in Nigeria and a significant step in our quest for excellence and efficiency in statistical production.
With technology deployment already concluded for the census, he said all enumerators will be equipped with CAPI devices for data collection. This will enable for fast and accurate collection, thereby increasing the quality of the data.
For the SGF, the results of this exercise are particularly important for statistical operations and policymaking in Nigeria, particularly because it has not been conducted for over two decades.
The first Business census was held in Kaduna State for the North, and the other for the South held in Asaba, Delta State, both in February and March of this year, respectively while the second pilot was also successful and has put the bureau in a position to deploy nationwide.
Earlier in the year, the NBS had carried out a national technical workshop for the census in Akwanga, Nassarawa State. At the event, NBS invited all relevant federal MDAs, as well as the state Ministries of Finance, Budget and Planning, Ministries of Commerce and Industries and their state statistical offices to discuss and agree on the proposed design and methodology of the census. Two national sensitization workshops were also held for the various business associations, chambers of commerce and industries, and state governments.
Kale urged all the trainers and facilitators to kindly accord it the seriousness and commitment it deserves.” With the current economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that the bureau as the apex statistical agency in the country, ”need to be at the fore in providing government with all relevant information to assist her in taking the right policy decisions, and this exercise is a very crucial part of that assignment.
”The usefulness to government and the business community of the vital information expected to come out of this exercise can only be best imagined. Aside gaining a better understanding of the changing structure of the economy, it can easily help government identify and locate establishments in different sectors of the economy for targeted support, and also, the data can be used in designing better employment generation programs, or even boost government revenue drive by going after establishments operating under the radar.
”I implore you to participate fully and be sure that you equip yourselves well enough to be able to further pass on the knowledge gained and expectation required to the enumerators adequately at the state level training. No matter how much technology and efficiency we introduce into the process, if the right information is not collected in the field, the outcome of the exercise will not be sound. Your responsibility for training the fieldworkers is vital and it starts here today with your own training,” he added.