Portugal’s strategy for development co-operation frames its support for statistical capacity as part of its overall institutional capacity building, which aims to strengthen governance, the rule of law and human rights. Implemented by Statistics Portugal, its national statistical office, its technical co-operation with Portuguese-speaking partner countries is built on long-term partnerships to ensure ownership and sustainability.

The Strategic Concept for Portuguese Development Cooperation 2014-2020, the current strategy for Portuguese development co-operation, has two overarching objectives – poverty eradication and sustainable development – and two priority lines: 1) governance, rule of law and human rights; and 2) human development and global public goods. Gender equality and children’s rights are considered cross-cutting themes. Portugal’s Strategic Concept explicitly cites support to statistical capacity in the context of its overall support to institutional capacity building under the priority of  governance, rule of law and human rights. It emphasises long-term support aligned with partner country strategies and priorities.

Portugal’s technical assistance to data and statistics in partner countries is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented by Statistics Portugal. In addition, Statistics Portugal co-funds capacity building programmes under the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) through the provision of technical assistance free of charge. Its assistance covers several areas such as legislation, planning, classifications, concepts and nomenclatures, statistical infrastructure, and statistical production and dissemination, with a special emphasis on consumer price indices, census cartography, population censuses and national accounts. Technical assistance to strengthen statistical legislation, consumer prices and classifications, and concepts and nomenclatures have grown in importance in recent years.

In the context of the European Union’s (EU) statistical co-operation programmes, Statistics Portugal has also supported sister institutions in candidate and potential candidate countries of the EU (by sending experts to those countries or hosting study visits) as well as in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (e.g. via the MEDSTAT co-operation programme) to develop statistical capacity.

According to OECD data and research,1 Portugal disbursed around USD 400 000 (in 2018 prices) for technical assistance and experts in the area of statistical capacity building in 2019, up from around USD 200 000 per year between 2016 and 2018 (Figure 1). Portugal’s ODA to data and statistics as a share of country-programmable aid increased from 2012. The budgetary decreases observed over the first half of the 2010s is accounted for by two developments. First, lower levels especially from 2014 onward reflect significant cuts in total official development assistance (ODA) resulting from the implementation of the Economic and Financial Adjustment Programme in Portugal (2011-14) (see also Portugal’s OECD-DAC Development Co-operation Profile 2020). Second, the completion of the 1st Training Programme of the National Statistical Systems of the Portuguese-speaking African Countries and Timor-Leste (2012-18), which was designed by Statistics Portugal based on requests expressed by its partner countries and approved by the CPLP, resulted in a decrease in the number of activities, especially from 2016 onwards. The period 2016-18 corresponded to the last phase of implementation, reserved for concluding priority actions. Other bilateral activities were maintained over the same period and so their overall weight increased in relation to activities within the CPLP.

The recent approval of the 2nd Training Programme of the National Statistical Systems of the Portuguese-speaking Countries provided a new financial and technical framework and a renewed impetus for Portugal’s international co-operation in the area of statistical capacity. The new phase of the programme extends the support to other projects (e.g. Sustainable Development Goal statistical monitoring, dissemination), increases the training component and promotes the implementation of South-South co-operation. While all physical activities and meetings were suspended due to COVID-19, new or adjusted modalities of implementation are being considered in close dialogue with all relevant stakeholders.

Portugal’s support to data and statistics is well-aligned with the overall focus and priorities of Portuguese development co-operation. Partner countries in the area of statistics are mainly Portuguese-speaking countries (i.e. Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, and Timor-Leste). All of Portugal’s support in this area aimed to boost participatory development and good governance. A significant share, 27%, also aims to strengthen gender equality.

Valuable lessons and insights are emerging from Statistics Portugal’s international co-operation activities. In particular, the provision of sustainable support through the establishment of long-lasting partnerships rather than ad hoc sectoral co-operation, was found to lead to greater project ownership by recipients. Many of Portugal’s partner countries autonomously manage projects and statistical products which were initially introduced in the context of co-operation programmes (e.g. estimation of consumer price indices, geo-referencing systems, approved statistical legislation, economic classifications and nomenclatures, etc.) and are themselves providers of technical assistance to their regional peers. See OECD (2017, pp. 52-53) for a specific example of Statistics Portugal’s technical assistance in the area of consumer prices.

According to OECD data on aid flows, participatory development and good governance are major policy objectives of all of Portugal’s ODA to data and statistics in its partner countries (Figure 2). One-fourth of its ODA had gender equality as a partial objective. Nearly all of it aims to strengthen statistical capacity broadly defined.

Portuguese development co-operation focuses on Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and other developing regions (Figure 3 and Figure 4). This is also the case for Portugal’s support to data and statistics: key partner countries between 2017 and 2019 were Sao Tome and Principe, Guinea-Bissau and Timor-Leste (all accounting for around 16% of total Portuguese ODA to data and statistics); Brazil (12%); Angola, Cabo Verde and Mozambique (all around 10%); and Equatorial Guinea (8%). Overall, 70% of Portugal’s support benefited African countries.

This focus on Portuguese-speaking countries translated into 26% of Portugal’s ODA in 2017-19 being extended to low-income countries, 52% to lower middle-income countries and 22% to upper middle-income countries (Brazil falls into this category; Figure 5). In 2019, nearly two-thirds of Portugal’s ODA to data and statistics was allocated to fragile contexts, up from 31% in 2014, and about one-third to small island developing states (Cabo Verde, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor-Leste).

Since 2016, Portugal’s aid to data and statistics was delivered mostly in the form of Portuguese experts and technical assistance and, to a lesser extent, project-type interventions carried out by Portuguese experts (Figure 6).

In 2017, a small share of Portugal’s total ODA to data and statistics was provided in the form of pooled funding for a multilateral organisation, the Organization of American States, in support of civil registration and identification in Colombia. In 2010 and 2011, close to half of Portugal’s assistance was provided by the Camões-Institute for Cooperation and Language in the form of sector budget support to Mozambique’s National Institute of Statistics.


← 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.

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