Professor Samuel K. Annim, a government statistician with the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), said bridging the intellectual gap between his team, policymakers and academia will require the establishment of a data policy institute.
The Institute, he said, would promote the creation of synergies among stakeholders to ensure that research data is harnessed and well disseminated to inform policy decisions for the benefit of citizens.
He made the suggestion during the national census policy dialogue, which was part of the activities marking the 50th anniversary of the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana.
Professor Annim urged RIPS to take the initiative and carry out a population policy audit to assess how census data over the years has informed the design of population-related policies and their subsequent outcomes.
He noted that the data transition conversation had shifted at the GSS from data collection to developing a data integrity framework, of which data accountability was part of its component.
The government statistician revealed that discussions are ongoing on how to classify government institutions, especially Metropolitan Municipal District Assemblies (MMDAs) and Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on data accountability.
The exercise, he said, was aimed at assessing the level of adherence of these entities to using data to inform their strategic plans.
“It’s about emphasizing that the data policy transition needs to be a measurement and, for that matter, a metrics-centric approach, not rhetoric.
“The data responsibility approach provides a platform to ask ourselves why are we doing a census every 10 years? why do we do a traditional census? What are we going to do with the improvement of administrative data? »
Mr. Dan Botwe, Minister of Local Government, Decentralization and Rural Development, advised MMDA to ensure that medium and long term planning activities are informed by correct data.
In cases where the MMDA may not have the capacity to use the data, he urged them to collaborate with the GSS and other relevant institutions.
He also recommended setting aside a small budget to invest in data collection at the district level, especially when relevant data is not available.
“I am convinced that the census contains huge data which is a rich source of material that we can use in all aspects of our development planning activities,” he said.
Mr. Barnabas Yisa, Acting Country Representative of UNFPA Ghana, noted that Ghana’s leadership had been exemplary in the planning and data collection during the census.
He observed that census data was relevant for the government and its agencies in effective policy formulation and implementation while guiding the decision of development partners, civil society organizations, the private sector and the media. .
For the data collected to be useful to stakeholders, he said there must be deliberate efforts to put it to good use.
“We think it’s time to go a little further than collecting data through censuses and other means. UNFPA would like to support the establishment of a national demographic dividend data observatory in Ghana,” he said.
Yisa also called for the development of mechanisms that would allow population data to be incorporated into the development plan, adding that “if you are planning and there is no population, then it is a plan. vague”.
The dialogue aimed to highlight the depth and relevance of the data generated by the 2021 Population and Housing Census.
It was held under the theme “Census data for effective political decision-making and sustainable development”.