Mallam O. – Statistician-General Unanimously Elected Vice-Chair of the United Nations Statistical Commission.
Prof. Osman Sankoh COR, commonly known as Mallam O., Sierra Leone’s Statistician-General and CEO of Statistics Sierra Leone (Stats SL) has been unanimously elected as Vice-Chair of the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC).
The United Nations Statistical Commission, established in 1947, is the highest body of the global statistical system bringing together the Chief Statisticians from member states from around the world. It is the highest decision-making body for international statistical activities, responsible for setting statistical standards and the development of concepts and methods, including their implementation at the national and international levels.
The Statistical Commission oversees the work of the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) based in New York and is a Functional Commission of the UN Economic and Social Council.
Prof. Sankoh was recently nominated by the Government of Sierra Leone through its Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.
Working at the highest level of the UN Statistical Commission is not new to Mallam O. as he was first elected in March 2020 in New York as the Rapporteur of the Commission at its 51st Session. He was re-elected in March 2021 for a second term as Rapporteur after excellent and committed service to the UNSC.
The newly elected members of the Bureau are:
Ms. Gabriella Vukovich (Hungary) as Chair;
Mr Osman Sankoh (Sierra Leone) as Vice-Chair;
Mr. Juan Daniel Oviedo (Columbia) as Vice-Chair;
Mr. Georges-Simon Ulrich (Switzerland) as Vice-Chair; and
Mr. RYU Keunkwan (Korea) as Rapporteur.
Prof. Sankoh was appointed Statistician-General and CEO of Statistics Sierra Leone in April 2018. Under his leadership the institution has seen a remarkable transformation, attracting diverse national and international partners and donors, including the World Bank which is funding Stats SL with a US$ 30m grant for the period 2019 to 2024.
Mallam O. is the Chief Census Officer of the first digital census — the first mid-term census in Sierra Leone in which satellite imagery was used for the first digital cartographic mapping of Sierra Leone.
While serving as Statistician-General, Mallam O. jointly served Njala University, the second-largest public university in Sierra Leone, as Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal from April 2020 to June 2021.
Until joining Stats SL, Prof Sankoh was for a decade the Executive Director of the INDEPTH Network with HQ in Accra, Ghana — an international organization for the demographic evaluation of populations and their health in 20 low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. At INDEPTH he raised and managed hundreds of millions of US dollars of research grants for the institution.
Since his return home, Mallam O. has been awarded several national awards including among the topmost, Commander of the Order of the Rokel by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone during the commemoration of the country’s 60th Independence Anniversary in April 2021.
He is a poet, author of both technical and literary books, and has more than 120 scientific papers in peer-reviewed international journals.
The unassuming, respectful, and down-to-earth Professor of Statistics was born in the little village of Warima, near Masiaka, where he had his primary school education. After secondary education at Tomlinson High School in Songo, he pursued his first degree in Mathematics and English at Njala University College (University of Sierra Leone). His postgraduate studies in Statistics were pursued at the Technical University of Dortmund in Germany, ending with a Doctor of Science degree. Thereafter he secured a scientific position at the University of Heidelberg Medical School in Germany where he still maintains a relationship as a Visiting Professor in the area of the nexus between climate change and human health.
He currently holds an honorary position as a full professor on the Faculty of Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at one of Africa’s topmost universities, the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa where he has supervised masters, doctoral and postdoctoral students.
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