Published on Eurasian Perspectives

In Kazakhstan, every number counts

Mark Twain once said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” It might seem that not much has changed since then.

In Kazakhstan, however, we have tried to change this perception of statistics, starting with the KAZSTAT Project that was launched in 2013 to strengthen the national statistical system.

As a first step, the entire collection of national statistics, from the first years of independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan, were downloaded to the database. By January 1, 2015, the electronic database of the Statistics Committee (e-Statistics) was launched, allowing visitors to get familiar with any statistical research or calculation.

In the first two years, 32 methodologies were developed and updated in line with best international practices. Today, these touch upon the non-observed economy, transport, employment, the labor market, agricultural and business registers, price indices, SMEs, R&D and innovation, etc. By the end of 2016, the number of updated and developed methodologies will increase to 73. By that time also, e-Statistics will be linked to the information systems of 28 government agencies, ministries and departments.


Today, the interface of the e-Statistics database has dramatically improved to satisfy different audiences –it is now easy to navigate, has a mobile version, and can be accessed by people who are visually impaired.

All of this has helped boost the number of e-visits to 2 million exclusive users – almost 17 times more than in 2009! The number of e-visits to the KAZSTAT online resource is now comparable with e-visits to public institutions in South Korea. It is also worth noting that experts from South Korea have provided assistance on new methods of statistics through advice and training, as well as through partnerships with the World Bank and the Federal Statistical Office of Germany.

Kazakhstan’s Statistics Committee today has 503 professional staff being trained at the statistical offices of consortium members and other partner countries. Upon their return, these trained staff will be able to share their knowledge with local specialists.

But the most important achievement is a rapid implementation of the electronic document flow, with the commissioning of e-Statistics. The number of statistical reports has increased twice (per year) in comparison with the recent past. Moreover, the statisticians have managed to achieve the seemingly impossible–to convert the registration book of rural households into electronic format. Today, there are more than two thousand statistical books of rural districts and villages.

It is also important to mention that this array of activities has enabled a reduction of 41% in the reporting burden for state agencies and has consequently reduced bureaucracy and red tape in official ranks.

With a year and a half year to go in terms of project implementation, there is a strong chance that Kazakhstan will have 100% e-Statistics by 2017.

As Ilkha Lehtinen, a Finnish Expert on Price Statistics, said, “Kazakh colleagues have revised many systems and are doing a very good job at it. What is important is that they are doing this in three years. In Finland, it took us twenty years to make all these changes and revisions.”

The Statistics Committee is about to introduce the Computer Assisted Personal and Telephone Interviews (CAPI and CATI) initiatives that will significantly reduce the cost of data collection, minimize errors and improve the quality and timeliness of data. All regional offices will soon have standardized websites with online reporting functions to help respondents – mainly businesses – complete their regular reporting online.

In Aktau city in the Mangystau region, there was very little trust in statistics until February 2015; even the region’s local administration did not trust the statistics fully to use the data for decision-making purposes. The situation changed, however, when the Statistics Committee provided detailed information to local administration about the strategic long-term improvements in methodology, capacity building, and improved infrastructure which allows for the provision of better quality data. Face-to face information sharing seemed to be more efficient than thousands of presentations sent electronically.

Capacity improvement is a long-term, ongoing process – with a need for continuous improvement – but users’ view and feedback are critical.

So, the question is: how can we further enhance trust in statistics?


Aliya Pistayeva

KAZSTAT Project Coordinator, Kazakhstan

Shynar Jetpissova

Communications Associate

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