The agency also renovated its library, located at the premises of the head office located in Piassa on General Wingate Street, at a cost of 2.5 million Br.

Ahead of the long anticipated national census, the Central Statistical Agency has invested 29.5 million Br in expanding its facilities.

The Agency built a conference hall, a training centre and renovated its library at its premises in Piassa along General Wingate Street. The construction of the conference hall and the training centre took two years, while the renovation of the library was completed in six months.

The construction and the renovation work is expected to enhance the organisational, infrastructural and human capacity of the Agency, according to Jemal Hassen, project manager of the Statistics for Results Project (SFR). The facilities renovation project is part of a larger, World Bank-financed institutional and resource capacity building project launched in 2014 with a 15-million-dollar budget. The overall project is being managed by SFR operating under the Central Statistical Agency.

"It will help the Agency to deliver reliable, accessible and timely statistical data," Jemal told Fortune.

Satowa Trading & Engineering was engaged for seven million Birr to renovate the training centre, which can accommodate 200 trainees at a time. The centre will provide training for branch office staff and census data collectors. The facility has five syndicated rooms that can be used for different purposes.

As the main government office specialising in the collection of data and statistics, the Agency plans to offer training to other government offices on database management and data registration systems, according to Jemal.

The construction of the conference hall, which has the capacity to accommodate 500 people, was completed by local contractor Friends Engineering Works. The 20-million-Br conference hall has a video conference centre connected to branch offices that facilitate new methods of data collection.

The Agency, which has conducted three national censuses, has been holding its meetings and training seminars at hotels and rented facilities, according to Jemal.  "It used to cost us a huge amount of money," he said.

Solomon Gebre Consulting Architects & Engineers, a decade-old local firm, consulted on and supervised the construction of both the conference hall and the training centre. They are equipped, furnished and integrated with miscellaneous ICT devices, GPS systems and tablets that will be used for the upcoming census.

Renovation of the library cost the Agency 2.5 million Br and was carried out by Shala Engineering & Construction.

The Agency, which operates 25 offices with 2,700 employees, has ample resources stocked in the new library including data and research papers that may be helpful for different people, according to Jemal.

The Agency is also working on a digital library, which is expected to be operational in a month and a half.

As the Agency is one of the critical government institutions in the country, the move to boost its facilities is commendable, according to Temesgen Tilahun (Ass. Prof.), a lecturer at Addis Abeba University's College of Developmental Studies.

"It will improve the quality of data provided by the Agency," Temesgen said. "It will also make the Agency release data in a timely fashion that can be used as inputs by different governmental and research institutions."

Along with the new facilities, the Agency is working on branch expansions under SFR. So far, it has built six branch offices in Adama, Dessie, Bahir Dar, Mekelle, Ambo and Hawassa. While four of the branches are operational, the construction of branches in Adama and Dessie is set to be completed in three months.

The Agency, first established in 1963, had scheduled to hold the fourth national population and housing census in the beginning of April. However, the Census Commission, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, postponed the census indefinitely. The Commission cited the lack of proper and adequate preparations to conduct the census within the scheduled period.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 23,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 986]

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