5th International Conference on
Big Data for Official Statistics
Working together — Learning together


The United Nations Global Working Group (GWG) on Big Data for Official Statistics was created under the UN Statistical Commission in 2014. The GWG provides strategic vision, direction and the coordination of a global programme on the use of new data sources and new technologies, which is essential for national statistical systems to remain relevant in a fast-moving data landscape. Big Data could fill gaps, make statistical operations more cost effective, enable the replacement of surveys and provide more granularities in outputs e.g. in support of the monitoring of the SDG goal of ‘leaving no one behind’. The GWG built the UN Global Platform as a collaborative environment to work together as a global statistical community and to learn together sharing knowledge, data and methods for all countries in the world.

Moving statistics in Africa forward

The GWG has promoted its work through annual Big Data Conferences: in October 2014 in Asia (Beijing); in October 2015 in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi); in September 2016 in Europe (Dublin); and in November 2017 in South America (Bogota). The format of these conferences was very similar: 3-days with high-level panels and demonstrations on issues related to “Big Data for official statistics”. At the most recent conference in Bogota, the GWG also successfully conducted in parallel 4 training workshops on the use of the use of satellite data, mobile phone data, scanner data and social media data, respectively.

The 5th International Conference on Big Data for official statistics will be held in Africa, namely in Kigali, Rwanda from 29 April until 3 May 2019. The first 3 days of the week will be devoted to training workshops for African countries and a seminar of activities of a Data Science Campus for official statistics. The seminar will demonstrate projects for the African continent, including projects on Digital Earth Africa. The last 2 days of the week will be for keynote speakers and several high-level panels. This week in Kigali will show that new data sources and new technologies can also be used in Africa to get better data for better policies.

Active collaboration on the UN Global Platform

The GWG created the UN Global Platform as a collaborative environment to develop and test new data sources, methods and algorithms for the global statistical system. The Global Platform will support capacity-building through a library of trusted training materials, methods and software applications. The platform currently contains several alpha services such as access to Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft’s Azure cloud, combined with a number of other services for code collaboration, methods publishing and Earth observation and location data analysis. Users of the platform can search, build, deploy and consume algorithms and statistical methods and can further develop methods using the main programming languages used by the community (R, Python, Java and Scala).

On the platform the statistical community can work together on new methods to compile Agricultural crop statistics using Satellite data, on measuring human mobility (migration and tourism statistics) using mobile phone data and on improved methods for CPI calculation using global data sets on prices and scanner data. Many more projects can be initiated on the platform involving not only the statistical community and related public sector but also stakeholders from private sector, academia and civil society.


Monday – Wednesday (29 April – 1 May 2019)

  • Workshop on Human Mobility statistics using Mobile Phone data (for African countries)
  • Workshop on Consumer Price Indices calculation using Scanner data and global price data (for African countries)
  • Seminar on Data Science Campus activities (open for everyone)

Thursday – Friday (2 May – 3 May 2019)

Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics

Day 1: Working Together - UN Global Platform
Thursday, 2 May 2019

08:00 - 09:00
09:15 - 10:00
Ceremonial Opening
Master of Ceremony - NISR, Rwanda
  • Ministerial-level representative of Rwanda
  • Ms. Amina Mohamed, United Nations Deputy-Secretary General (Video Message)
  • Mr. Fodé Ndiaye, UN Resident Coordinator of Rwanda
10:20 - 10:35
Introductory remarks by the organizers
  • Mr. Yusuf Murangwa, Director General, NISR Rwanda
  • Mr. Niels Ploug, Statistics Denmark and co-Chair of the GWG
  • Mr. Charles Lufumpa, Statistics Department, African Development Bank
  • Mr. Ronald Jansen, Assistant Director, United Nations Statistics Division
10:35 - 11:00
Keynote address “Working together - Learning together"
Mr. Zachary Mwangi Chege, Chief Statistician of Kenya and Chair of the UN Statistical Commission
11:00 - 12:30
High-Level Panel discussion on Working Together: the UN Global Platform
Moderator - Mr. Niels Ploug, Statistics Denmark and co-Chair of the GWG
  • Mr. Yusuf Murangwa, Director General, NISR Rwanda
  • Mr. Charles Lufumpa, Director, Statistics Department, African Development Bank
  • Mr. Mark Craddock, IT Manager, UN Global Platform, ONS, UK
  • Ms. Brennan VanDyke, Deputy Chief Scientist, UNEP
  • Mr. Ronald Jansen, Assistant Director, UNSD
14:00 - 15:45
Use of Satellite Data and Digital Earth Africa for Agriculture and Environment statistics
Moderator - Mr. Bert Kroese, Statistics Netherlands
  • Ms. Jillian Campbell, Senior Statistician, UNEP
  • Mr. Jonathon Ross, Geoscience Australia
  • Mr. Davis Adieno, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data
  • Mr. Artur Łączyński, Statistics Poland
  • Mr. Jean-Pierre Gatera, Esri Rwanda
16:00 - 17:30
Use of new data sources for Economic statistics
Moderator - Mr. Michael Smedes, UNSD
  • Mr. Tom Smith, ONS, UK, Faster indicators on UK economic activity
  • Dr. Monique Nsazabaganwa, National Bank of Rwanda
  • Mr. Sainarayan Ananthanarayan (ICAO) & Mr. Markie Muryawan (UNSD), ASDB and Trade  
  • Mr. Jason Patchay Naicker, Nielsen South Africa

Day 2: Learning Together - Innovation in official statistics
Friday, 3 May 2019

09:00 - 09:05
Overview of the day
Niels Ploug, Statistics Denmark
09:05 - 10:45
Use of Mobile Phone Data for Tourism, Migration and Population statistics
Moderator - Mr. Ronald Jansen, UNSD
  • Mr. Siim Esko, Positium
  • Mr. Rifa Rufiadi, BPS Indonesia
  • Mr. Patrick Nyirishema, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority
  • Mr. Shengjie Lai, University of Southampton & Flowminder
  • Mr. Frederick Okwayo, UNFPA
11:00 - 12:30
Data Innovation in Africa
Moderator - Mr. Oliver Chinganya, UNECA
  • Ms. Derval Usher, UN Global Pulse
  • Mr. Linus Bengtsson, Flowminder, GRID3
  • Mr. Rafik Mahjoubi, Innovation Lab, African Development Bank
  • Mr. Innocent Muhizi, Director General of Rwanda Information Society Authority
  • Mr. Ivan Murenzi, Open SDG Platform – Rwanda
14:00 - 15:45
Data Science and Capacity Development in Official Statistics
Moderator - Mr. Dominik Rozkrut, Statistics Poland
  • Mr. Tom Smith, Data Science Campus ONS
  • Prof. Dr. Bertrand Loison, Data innovation strategy, Switzerland
  • Mr. Eduardo Barredo-Capelot, Data innovation in Eurostat
  • Mr. Tom Wilkinson, DFID
  • Dr. Charles Lebon Mberi Kimpolo, Director of AIMS Industry Initiative
  • Ms. Ibtissam Sahir, GOPA
16:00 - 17:00
Panel on the way forward - Data Collaboration for Official Statistics
Moderator - Mr. Niels Ploug, Statistics Denmark
  • Mr. Yusuf Murangwa, NISR Rwanda
  • Mr. Oliver Chinganya, UNECA
  • Mr. Eduardo Barredo-Capelot, Eurostat
  • Mr. Ronald Jansen, UNSD
  • Mr. Bert Kroese, Statistics Netherlands
  • Mr. Dominik Rozkrut, Statistics Poland
  • Mr. Louis Kouakou, African Development Bank

Seminar on Data Science Campus activities in Kigali


Big Data is by definition different from traditional data sources currently used by national statistical systems (NSSs) requiring the development of new methodologies together with upgrading of quality assurance framework, technology, security, privacy and legal matters. This means that new skill sets and competencies are necessary. Some of which could be hired temporarily, others will need to become an integral part of the institution. Data science is one of those new competencies. It is likely that the staffing table of statistical institutions will show quite a few data scientists and data engineers in the near future.

This seminar offers insights into activities at Data Science Campus and their training opportunities. It will consist of lectures, project presentations and hands-on demonstrations.

Date: 29 April - 1 May 2019
Venue: Data Science Campus, Kigali, Rwanda


Day 1: Data Science and Official Statistics
Monday, 29 April 2019

Ronald Jansen, UN Statistics Division
What is the UN Global Platform and how does it work?  
Presenters: Mark Craddock, Gavin Phillips and Joe Peskett (all ONS, UK) and Ross Bernet (Azavea)
  • Intro and overview (Mark)
  • Roadmap, marketplace, location service (Gavin)
  • Methods service (Joe)
  • Earth observation service (Ross)
  • Q&A
New paradigm for compiling official statistics
Presenters: Prof. Dr. Diego Kuonen (remotely) and Prof. Dr. Bertrand Loison, FSO Switzerland
Building Capacity at ONS Data Science Campus and beyond
Presenters: Tom Smith, ONS, UK, and Ceri Regan, ONS, UK
Mapping the Urban Forest on the Global Platform
Presenters: Joe Peskett, ONS and Ross Bernet, Azavea
AIS Vessel tracking data
Presenter: Gavin Phillips, ONS, UK, Ronald Jansen and Markie Muryawan, UNSD
Trade Statistics and SDMX on UNGP
Presenter: Markie Muryawan, UNSD

Day 2: Earth Observation projects and Capacity development opportunities
Tuesday, 30 April 2019


Projects using EO data

Environment statistics using EO data
Presenter: Jillian Campbell, UNEP
Agriculture statistics using EO data
Presenter: Artur Łączyński, Statistics Poland
Environment indicators using EO data
Presenter: Mr. Jean-Pierre Gatera, Esri Rwanda
FAO work on geospatial applications for agricultural statistics
Presenter: Dominique Habimana, FAO
Innovation Lab
Presenter: Rafik Mahjoubi, African Development Bank

Capacity development opportunities

Task Team on Training, Competencies and Capacity Development
Presenter: Dominik Rozkrut, Statistics Poland
NISR Data Science Campus
Presenter: Ivan Murenzi, NISR Rwanda
African Centre for Statistics
Presenter: Molla Hunegnaw Asmare, UNECA
Managing data innovation in African NSOs
Presenter: Rajiv Ranjan, Paris21
Consultancy services for Capacity Development
Presenter: Ibtissam Sahir, GOPA

Day 3: Human Mobility and other projects
Wednesday, 1 May 2019


Data Science, AI and Machine Learning projects

Estimating Urban Statistics with AI
Presenter: Martin Gordon Mubangizi, UN Global Pulse, and Bernard Justus Muhwezi, UBOS
Migration research in Namibia using Mobile Phone data
Presenter: Dr. Shengjie Lai, University of Southampton & Flowminder
Linking Aid to the SDGs: a Machine Learning approach
Presenter: Arnaud Pincet, OECD
Close of Seminar