Dr John Steytler and the Namibia Statistics Agency

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By Iipumbu Sakaria

EVERYTHING rises and falls with leadership. This essentially means that if things are failing the leaders are often blamed, indeed, they often become the scapegoats. This equally applies to success. When success is recorded then leaders are also often the ones that are given the praise. This is no different to the Namibia Statistics Agency that has been led by Dr John Steytler for the past few years.

The agency was established a few years ago as an independent statistical authority that produces and disseminates relevant, quality and timely statistics that are fit for purpose. We can safely conclude and agree that within a very short period of time the Namibia Statistics Agency has become known as a reputable institution and proven that it can provide the statistical information needed for evidence-based policy decisions.

Indeed, there is consensus that our national statistics have improved tremendously since the creation of the Namibia Statistics Agency, and we should all be proud of that. Particular achievements that can be cited is the first agricultural census in 20 years, annual labour force surveys and the establishment of the most modern data processing centre in Africa. Probably the most important achievement is to have instilled in people the confidence that they are able to indeed produce the statistics required for national planning and monitoring.

Starting off without any policies and staff it was required to create policies but at the same time ensure that statistical production continues. This has never been an easy task but so far the NSA has weathered that storm and handled it very well indeed.

Having created such a high profile over such a short time puts a heavy weight on our shoulders. It requires us to maintain and improve this high standard. This can only be achieved if we continue to implement our strategic focus to raise the quality of statistics in Namibia. It will also require us to continue being run as a professional statistical authority, as mandated by the Statistics Act, No. 9 of 2011. All eyes will be on us from now on and we may not dare fail ourselves. We certainly won’t.

Our board of directors has the confidence that the NSA has the necessary manpower, skills, ambitions, vision and focus to excel. What is required from us is to ensure that we remain highly organized and motivated. Organization naturally comes by being committed to becoming an institution of excellence. Such an institution will not promote, tolerate, celebrate or reward mediocracy but at all times strive to be the best that it can be in line with our values. In order to remain motivated there is a need to provide sound leadership that invokes within all of us the spirit to excel and do more. I have no doubt that if we adhere to these two principles we shall continue to make the nation proud.

As the spokesperson of the NSA, I would like to take this opportunity to warmheartedly thank Dr John Steytler for the leadership that he provided over the past few years and wish him all the best in the next phase of his career. As NSA staff we owe it to ourselves and the nation to maintain and improve the standards that our former statistician general set. Anything less than that is not acceptable and will not be entertained because we know that it is within our abilities to excel.

Namibia, assist us in demanding to receive the statistics that you require whilst we continue to strive for excellence. John Steytler, you led us well. With you in charge, statistics surely improved in the country and we shall, without fail, take it to the next level.
• Iipumbu Sakaria is the Deputy Director for Strategic Communications at the NSA.

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