SA, UK explore use of data to boost local economies

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and National Treasury have invited the United Kingdom’s National Statistics (ONS) to participate in launching a community of practice to explore how local data can be used to support local economies.

The com…


The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and National Treasury have invited the United Kingdom’s National Statistics (ONS) to participate in launching a community of practice to explore how local data can be used to support local economies.

The community of practice aims to generate new knowledge and facilitate the exchange of ideas about strengthening the economic performance of South African cities.

‘The purpose is to widen the circle of researchers, policymakers and practitioners interested in the economy of cities by building a vibrant network of enthusiasts and experts,’ the HSRC explained in a statement.

Following the launch of the Spatial Economic Activity Data – South Africa (SEAD-SA) in June 2023, there have been discussions between SEAD-SA and the HSRC’s Policy Action Network (PAN) project about sustaining and expanding the impact of this work among the policy and data community.

The two-day workshop, which is being held today and tomorrow, has since identified strategic objectives, which will
be fleshed out during discussions.

The group will also discuss and share the best practices to effectively deliver local data insights, including administrative data.

They will look at alternative methods and techniques to measure local economies, especially where economic shocks are more likely, including the experiences and approach to using private sector data sources.

The event will also discuss options for training and skills transfer such as an online data masterclass to improve data awareness and literacy among senior leaders, exchange insights to identify user requirements, and deepen and widen the production of local economic data from tax data through the SEAD-SA portal.

The HSRC said the workshop is the culmination of a lengthy engagement between the South African government, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) based in South Africa and the ONS, which began in 2023 to explore opportunities to share expertise and provide technical assistance to the South African government.

The HSRC will host the workshop with the National Treasury, UK-FCDO, and their partners. These include the South African Revenue Service, the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research, Statistics South Africa, the South African Local Government Association, South African Cities Network, and the University of the Free State.

The HRSC explained that the SEAD-SA project aims to address the gaps that exist between the local economy of cities and the wider economic geography of the country by leveraging tax and other administrative data sources.

The data provide the government, business, and civil society with reliable evidence on which to base crucial developmental decisions.

The Minister of Finance formally launched SEAD-SA and the Spatial Tax Portal last year.

Source: South African Government News Agency