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Veep launches Census Night campaign

BY: Chris Nunoo
Professor Samuel Kobina Annim — Government Statistician
Professor Samuel Kobina Annim — Government Statistician

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has launched a publicity and preparation campaign dubbed “100 Days to Census Night” in Accra to prepare the citizenry for the national data gathering programme on the population and housing situation in Ghana.

The 16-page publicity document outlines the strategies for the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC).

Among other innovations, the 2021 PHC - which begins on the night of Sunday, June 27 - will be the first fully digital census, with the use of tablets for data capture instead of traditional paper questionnaires.

It will also use geographic positioning system (GPS) to capture the location of all structures, and employ interactive area maps for accurate identification of enumeration and the provision areas.

The 2021 PHC will also see the implementation, for the first time, of data linkage technology to harmonise and improve statistics in the West African subregion.

The implementation of the Harmonising and Improving Statistics in West Africa Project (2020−2024) is intended to ensure efficient data production through cooperation and partnership with the national statistics offices of seven West African countries, as well as 20 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Technology

Addressing the ceremony, the Vice-President said the census was a priority development activity which required the mobilisation of state resources and the utilisation of the existing state infrastructure.

To that end, he said, the government had set a digitisation agenda to improve the efficiency of many government agencies, and that the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) would not be left behind.

“We are at the cusp of a technology revolution, and countries are constantly rolling out new technology applications to improve daily lives, improve public administration, how government works, and how government delivers services to the public, and, therefore, Ghana cannot be left behind in this march of technological innovation,” Dr Bawumia said.

He said the government was building a data-based digital society, which, in just over two years, had witnessed the fast pace of digitisation from the Ghana card, digital addressing system, the interoperability of the payment system, among others.

ICT module

The Vice-President, therefore, lauded the incorporation of an information communication technology (ICT) module in the census by the GSS to ascertain the level of digital application and access in the country, and said the exercise would provide comprehensive data on ICT access and usage in the country to enhance development in the sector.

The census exercise has a budget of GH¢521.3 million, and Dr Bawumia said the government had already mobilised and disbursed GH¢449.7 million for the conduct of the 2021 PHC, pointing out that the GSS would conduct its first digital PHC this year, focusing especially on five areas that would uniquely provide for the current transformation agenda of the country.

“We are interested in the penetration in the rural areas, internet usage, ownership of ICT devices, usage of mobile phones for financial transactions, and how ICT may be changing lives and affecting livelihoods,” he said, adding that “the use of tablets for data capture will greatly improve data quality and reduce data processing time.

He explained that the census would provide updated information on the population, and further help government and the country at large “to track where we are on many fronts in our development path, including how close we are in pursuing the international, national, regional and global development goals”.

Dr Bawumia said the inclusion of housing conditions module in the 2021 census exercise made it possible to provide data to assess the adequacy of housing.

Census night

As of Friday, which marked exactly hundred days to the census, key preparatory activities necessary for the exercise, such as the mapping of the entire country, demarcation of 51,911 enumeration areas, recruitment of trainers and district data quality management teams, had been completed.

Other key activities which include the training of trainers, recruitment of enumerators and preparation of tablets for data collection are also ongoing and will be completed within the next 60 days.