ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

A lack of price data in Africa has often led to civil unrest, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said Wednesday.

ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe made the comments during a virtual launch of Price Watch, a first-of-its-kind continental price data platform.

Songwe said the role of national statistics offices and national revenue authorities in ensuring the platform has timely, accurate and up-to-date data would be crucial.

She cautioned the “lack of price data to enable us monitor, analyze and manage economies through informed policy decisions has often led to civil unrests” because when prices like food, oil, and energy go up, “people take to the streets.”

The initiative wants to bring prices and exchange rates of all African nations into one platform readily accessible to citizens, decision makers and other stakeholders.

The platform will involve monthly, quarterly and annual analyses of inflation.

The launch was chaired by Ghana’s Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, who applauded the ECA for the initiative and said, “this one-stop-shop for finding data” would go a long way to “increase ECA’s relevance in Africa.”

“We need data on price movements to gauge how changes in consumer prices alone may be affecting the trends in income distribution, poverty levels and inequalities, including especially among those who live on retirement incomes,” Bawumia was quoted in an ECA statement.

“As we open the doors to continental free trade, price level data will enable across-country comparisons and understanding of regional markets and the competitiveness of producers across Africa,” he said.

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