ON December 11, I was one of the guests of honour and recipients of awards on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Statistique et d’Economie Appliquée (Ensea) in Abijan, Côte d’Ivoire.
After he tried several times to meet me at the margins of successive United Nations Statistical Commissions in New York, I finally met Professor Koffi N’guessan in July of 2007 at Ensea. We were participating in the constructing what later became Strategies for Harmonisation of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA), inaugurated in 2010.
The late Dr René Kouassi, a friend and pan-African of note, who was director of economic affairs at the African Union Commission, had arranged a dinner for us there. The campus of Côte d’Ivoire University was in tatters, with buildings that were inhabitable.
The university subsequently closed for at least three years in order for it to be rehabilitated, not only from the rotting infrastructure, but institutionally as well. What struck Risenga Maluleke, who is now the Statistician-General and Head of Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), and I as we entered the university was this oasis of excellence at Ensea. We wondered why in the amid all the destruction did this jewel survive?
Ensea has been consistent both externally, internally and temporally. Since its establishment 60 years ago, Ensea has led with excellence, and illustrates what institution-building in Africa should mean.
N’guessan Koffie, who from July was appointed as Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Technical Education, Vocational Training and Apprenticeship had served as a director of Ensea for 20 years, after taking over from Dr Francois Yattien-Amiguet, a director of Ensea for 25 years. Koffi served Ensea for 33 years.
For the past six years, Ensea has been in the hands of Professor Kouadio Kouassi Hugues, whom upon his appointment in succeeding Koffie, had served at Ensea for 22 years.
Ensea has trained in excess of 4 000 professionals who are working in statistics offices, ministries of planning and the banking sector, industry and commerce. At the ceremony, there were no less than four ministers who had actually held fort as lecturers at Ensea. It is clear that Ensea is producing the technocratic leadership for Africa’s renewal agenda.
Over that all important dinner in July 2007, Risenga and I spent time walking through the statistical laboratories with the programme including the language laboratory. Koffi and I arrived at crucial decisions shortly after the tour.
The first was that he would admit qualifying staff members from Statistics South Africa the following month and annually, thereafter, at the institute to undertake studies in statistics, and the second was we would strive to advance and break the language barrier, especially in technical subjects to advance African unity and competence, based on economic diplomacy in Africa.
We envisioned the programme as key to driving that. True to our ambition, his successor Professor Kouadio Hugues has opened a third frontier, whereby Ensea hosts the International Centre of Excellence that will focus on new global challenges of information technology, big data, the internet of things, statistical leadership, continuing learning and executive education.
I continue to serve as the chairperson of the committee of the design and eventuation of this International Centre of Excellence at Ensea. The prospects of this institution growing from strength-to-strength are shining bright.
I am humbled by the confidence the government and people of Côte d’Ivoire have placed on my shoulders to lead.
Since the inauguration of StatsSA and Ensea relationship more than a decade ago, StatsSA has trained several officials who now master the subject matter of economic statistics. Not only that, but they do so in French. Thus, putting a cadre of professionals who can be fielded into the field of economic diplomacy and interact easily with their Francophone counterparts.
We can break the barriers to trade and human interactions, if at the leadership and technical-levels we break the language barriers. Some of the South African professionals are working across the continent and the world. Such a successful programme and the recognition I received would have not been possible, if the former minister of finance and later of planning, Trevor Manuel, and the presidents he served under did not have faith in the African Symposium for Statistical Development that they allowed me space to create and lead.
The award I received at Ensea in recognition for leadership in statistics is testimony to the support that StatsSA and its leadership put and continue to place behind African unity and Agenda 2063. Africa can prosper, but only when it puts its thoughts on leadership. Ensea demonstrates what Africa can achieve, if it sets its mind on leadership.
Source : https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/economy/pali-lehohla-former-statistician-general-of-sa-receives-award-at-ensea-for-leadership-in-statistics-9d52ba09-debb-4a4a-9c6d-e669cd0264b7