Norway supports data and statistical capacity development to enable evidence-based policy making, public transparency and good governance in its partner countries. Through co-operation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and Statistics Norway, its national statistical office, Norway engages in long-term institutional co-operation in select partner countries. Norway gives high priority to administrative data and to statistical capacity within the framework of its Oil for Development and Gender Equality for Development programmes.

Norad’s Knowledge for Development (2016) strategy (up to 2020) prioritises supporting the production of good quality official statistics and contributing to the long-term development of well-functioning national statistical systems in partner countries. These priorities are linked to its vision to create an enabling environment for improved policy making, with equitable provision of services thanks to improved capacity of statistics offices and better statistical data.

A central element of Norway’s support to data and statistics is the long-standing co-operation between Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norad and Statistics Norway. In this set up, Statistics Norway receives funds from Norad or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage in long-term institutional co-operation for statistical capacity development in select partner countries. These co-operation programmes can be grouped into four types of programmes: 1) long-term and broad-based institutional co-operation for development of statistical capacity; 2) development of statistical capacity as part of Norway’s Oil for Development programme; 3) development of statistical capacity as part of Norway’s Gender Equality for Development programme; and 4) more limited and targeted co-operation with sister organisations to support the development and implementation of specific statistics or surveys.

According to OECD data and research,1 Norway’s disbursements to data and statistics between 2017 and 2019 averaged close to USD 8.4 million per year (Figure 1) of which nearly half was targeted to low-income countries (LICs) and nearly two-thirds to fragile contexts. Norway’s ODA in this area is increasingly focused on Africa and LICs. Norway tends to focus primarily on general capacity development, especially for economic statistics and macroeconomic modelling, register-based statistics, and population and health data.

In 2018, the Norwegian government launched Digitalisation for Development, a strategy for digitalisation for Norwegian development policy. Among other things, the strategy highlights the importance of basic public registers. In describing new initiatives in areas in which Norway possesses expertise,2 it notes that “consideration will be given to coordinating Norwegian assistance aimed at the creation of basic public registers, including population, business, property and address registers.”

More and better use of administrative data in statistics has been a priority for many years in Statistics Norway’s development co-operation projects. To strengthen its collaboration in the area of development co-operation, it established a working group in 2017 with the three Norwegian public agencies responsible for basic registers, the Norwegian Tax Administration (population and tax registers), the Brønnøysund Register Centre (register of business enterprises) and the Norwegian Mapping Authority (property and address registers). In 2019, Norad commissioned a study to assess how a possible “Statistics and Registers for Development Programme” could be designed and implemented, with an eye to promoting synergies with existing and new “for development” programmes.

Three key lessons have emerged from Norway’s experience of supporting statistical capacity in its partner countries. First, country ownership of activities is key to ensure long-term impact. Second, Norway’s support has often benefited from flexibility in project implementation to adapt to evolving needs and contexts, especially in countries affected by fragility. Third, long-term engagement – Norway’s institutional development co-operation projects often have a duration of up to 15 years or more – has often been conducive to achieving sustained capacity development.

One example of this type of long-term support that is today seen as a success is Statistics Norway’s partnership with Malawi’s Ministry of Planning and Development and its National Statistics Office (see Hobbelstad Simpson and Wold, 2015). The project, which ran from 2004 to 2015, was broad-based, providing support to most of the key statistical domains and also supported cross-cutting areas.3 An external evaluation (Itad, 2015) of the project found evidence of improvements in capacity4 that were judged moderately sustainable. It also found that the project was highly relevant to Malawi’s priorities and needs and Norway’s specific expertise in its intent and its delivery. Ten years after the partnership began, Malawi was among the countries in sub-Saharan Africa with the highest level of statistical capacity according to the World Bank’s Statistical Capacity Indicator. With the help of Statistics Norway, Malawi’s National Statistics Office developed an annual business survey, which provides detailed information on economic activity by industry, and updated and improved its system of national accounts.5 Better statistics and knowledge of macro modelling allow the Malawian authorities to perform better economic analyses and projections.

Statistics Norway often supports capacity development in the area of economic statistics and registries (e.g. business registers), for instance, in the context of the Oil for Development programme. Gender statistics are an emerging priority area: in 2018 and 2019, Statistics Norway partnered with the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth, and Family Affairs and is initiating collaboration with Ethiopian and Nepalese sister organisations in the context of Norway’s Gender Equality for Development programme. While the aim of this programme is to build technical capacity to strengthen women’s rights and gender equality, the first programme phase will initially focus on knowledge management and particularly on statistics.

Between 2017 and 2019, Norway allocated a significant share, 18%, of its ODA for data and statistics to population statistics, especially the funding of population censuses via the United Nations Population Fund. In 2016, by way of the Health Information Systems Programme housed at the University of Oslo, Norway provided support for software development, implementation support and capacity development for health information systems (Figure 2).

In 2017, Norway released a white paper proposing two new categories of partnerships with developing countries: one for long-term development co-operation and the other for stabilisation and conflict prevention. Partner countries in the first category are Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. Partner countries in the second category are Afghanistan, Mali, Niger, the Palestinian Authority, Somalia and South Sudan.

Statistics Norway has ongoing co-operation programmes with Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. It also co-operates with partner countries in Europe and Central Asia such as Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and is in the process of initiating a project in Nepal. Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has in recent years provided ODA for statistical activities to Malawi (for census work through the United Nations Population Fund), Mali (also census work) and the Palestinian Authority (Figure 3 and Figure 4).

Between 2017 and 2019, the last years for which data are available, half of Norway’s ODA for data and statistics, nearly two-thirds of its country-allocable ODA, was targeted to sub-Saharan Africa ( Figure 3 and Figure 4). Malawi, Mozambique, and the Palestinian Authority were major recipients of Norwegian ODA for data and statistics in these years. The share of Norway’s ODA to data and statistics allocated to Africa has mostly increased over the years, from 31% in 2010 to 61% in 2018. At the same time, the share allocated to other regions – especially Asia – decreased, from 49% in 2010 to 11% by 2018.

Nearly all of Norway’s country-allocable ODA was targeted to LICs and lower middle-income countries (LMICs): in 2019, 40% of Norway’s ODA to data and statistics was targeted to LICs and 41% to LMICs, with ODA not allocable by country accounting for much of the remainder (Figure 5). One-third of Norway’s country-allocable support benefited fragile contexts. In line with a shift of focus towards Africa, LICs have seen their share of Norway’s ODA to data and statistics increase from 21% in 2010 to 55% by 2018.

OECD data show that between 2017 and 2019, project-type interventions accounted for 67% of Norway’s ODA to data and statistics (Figure 6). Experts and other technical assistance accounted for 20% and contributions to specific programmes and pooled funds accounted for 13% over this time period.

More than 60% of Norway’s ODA to data and statistics between 2017 and 2019 was channelled through public sector institutions, of which around two-thirds were channelled through Norwegian entities (Figure 7).6 Multilateral organisations accounted for about 22% of Norway’s ODA to data and statistics, including the United Nations Population Fund (for census work in Malawi, Mali and Mozambique), the International Monetary Fund’s Data for Decisions (D4D) Trust Fund (since 2019), and the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21). Non-governmental organisations and research and teaching institutions accounted for the remainder.


← 1. The analysis in this profile is based on official data reported by members to the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System. It is published under the responsibility of the OECD. OECD analysts mined the database using a text search with manual curation. Where relevant, members contributed additional data to fill gaps. Please see the methodological annex for further details on the data analysis.

← 2. Norway has extensive experience in the development and use of administrative registers for statistical purposes. Norway’s last population and housing census, for instance, was entirely based on data from various administrative registers.

← 3. The project was divided into five main tracks: 1) strengthening of economic statistics; 2) strengthening of the national accounts; 3) development of a macroeconomic model and capacity development for macroeconomic analysis; 4) building of statistical infrastructure; and 4) establishment of a system of household surveys with a statistical model that provides regular estimates of poverty.

← 4. The report notes “an increase in both the quantity and quality of statistical outputs from the [Malawian] National Statistics Office (NSO) [...]. NSO figures are now considered more reliable and provide a better basis for economic policy. The demand from national ministries for statistical expertise from NSO has also increased.”

← 5. As a result of new data and improved definitions, the Malawian authorities in 2007 were able to release revised national accounts for the years 2002-04, which turned out to be 37-38% higher than previous estimates (Hobbelstad Simpson and Wold, 2015).

← 6. While classified as a research and teaching institute in the underlying data, for comparability with other Development Assistance Committee members, ODA implemented by Statistics Norway was classified as being channelled through a donor country public sector agency. Similarly, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics was reclassified from a research and teaching institute to a recipient country public sector entity.

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