Start: Aug. 16, 2009
End: Aug. 22, 2009
Place: Durban, South Africa
International Statistical Institute
The 57th Session of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) to be held in Durban, South Africa, will be the first ISI Session ever held in Sub-Saharan Africa in the ISI’s 122 year old history.
This historic Session will mark a significant milestone in South Africa’s critical path towards the development of statistical human capacity. Conventionally, an ISI Session, held biennially, provides a platform for the gathering of over 5000 of the world’s statisticians to share experience in a diverse range of statistics amongst public, private, research and educational institutions. Yet historically, African (and even South African) participation at ISI Sessions has remained extremely limited.
The 57th Session of the ISI to be held in Durban in 2009 is timely for Africa as the African region witnesses an upsurge in statistical activity, partnerships and notable political will aimed at improving statistical data measurement and quality for monitoring and evaluating better development outcomes in Africa.
Central to our hosting of the 57th Session of the ISI in 2009 is South Africa’s participation at the 56th Session of the ISI to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, 22-29 August 2007 – The Portugal Chapter of South Africa’s preparations for the 57th Session of the ISI in 2009. The 57th Session of the ISI in 2009 will mark perhaps one of the most important activities of the African statistical development work programme. The Portugal Chapter endeavours to re-affirm the ISI 2009 strategy to facilitate an integration of the African community into mainstream statistical discourse, the broader scholarly participation of Africans at the ISI in 2009, the development of segmented cadres of statistician and demographers in Africa, developing statistics education in Africa, the promotion of research in a science with a fragmented history of African achievement, and promoting statistical data utilisation in Africa for evidence-based policy-making and creating a diverse range of fora for sharing best practice.
In a Cabinet Memorandum dated August 2003, Cabinet approved the request for South Africa to host the 57th Session of the International Statistical Institute, which will be held in Durban, South Africa in August 2009. The theme of this prestigious meeting will be “Statistics: Our Past, Present and Future.” In the same month in Germany, on behalf of South Africa, Statistics South Africa, in collaboration with the South African Statistical Association, presented and was awarded the Bid to host the 57th Session of the International Statistical Institute.
The International Statistical Institute (ISI) is one of the oldest international scientific association’s active today. It was established in 1885 and its predecessor organisation, the International Congresses (ISC), was founded in 1853. The Institute is an autonomous society, which seeks to develop and improve statistical methods and their application through the promotion of international activities and co-operation. The ISI is composed of some 2,000 elected members who are the world’s leading statisticians. These members are drawn from roughly 130 countries and their accumulated experience represents a vast store of scientific knowledge, which covers the entire range of official, applied and theoretical statistics. Approximately 3,000 members of the Institute’s Sections and its Associations and Societies, supplement this reservoir of expertise.
In total, there are about 5,000 individual members in the ISI and its Associations, which provide a forum for international exchange of knowledge between members. The ISI also aims to utilise members’ expertise to address general problems of statistical importance. The Institute has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Its activities are funded by grants from intergovernmental organisations, governments, local authorities, foundations, private business and other bodies, in addition to membership fees and proceeds from the sale of ISI publications.
The Statistics Act, Act No 6 of 1999, mandates Stats SA to collect, process, analyse and disseminate official statistics. The act gives the agency a competitive advantage over other data suppliers in the country but bestows on it an enormous responsibility that of providing leadership in the field of statistics in the country. Stats SA’s vision of being “the preferred supplier of quality statistics” places the organisation at the centre of the international statistical battle-field. Through its mission, “to provide a relevant and accurate body of statistics to inform users on the dynamics in the economy and society through the application of internationally acclaimed practices”; Stats SA firmly roots itself as a leader in the production of statistics. Hosting the 57th Session of the ISI will give the organisation the opportunity to consolidate its leadership position.
As the African region witnesses an upsurge in statistical activity, partnerships and notable political will aimed at improving statistical data measurement and quality for monitoring and evaluating better development outcomes in Africa, an area of focus in this revitalisation process becomes even more acutely that of statistical capacity building to build a legacy in statistical education for generations to come. For the 57th Session of the ISI, a total of 10,000 delegates are expected to attend – a far cry from the 1st Session of the ISI held in Rome in 1887.