As part of efforts to provide inputs into the on-going capacity assessment of the national statistical system, a stakeholder’s forum to discuss the state of and direction for national statistical development at all levels of administration has taken place in Accra.

The forum aimed to reinforce public awareness of the importance of data for planning and decision-making; engender among key stakeholders, their knowledge of on-going initiatives to augment data production and a shared understanding about the gaps in data availability, accessibility and use; enhance appreciation for administrative records as an indispensable source of data; and outline key strategies for improving the collection, compilation, analysis and the dissemination of statistical information.

It was organized by the National Development planning Commission (NDPC) and the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The theme for the forum was ‘Strengthening data production and utilization in national development planning.’

In a key note address at the opening of the forum, last week, Professor Samuel Annim, Director, Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy, University of Cape Coast, noted that making plans, policies or decisions without the relevant statistical information amounted to pursuing a course of action merely influenced by assumptions.

Prof. Annim said while Ghana had a strong record of periodically producing and disseminating data from population-based and economic surveys, data from civil economic registers and other administrative systems and processes-records from health centers, schools or water utility companies- were not routinely exploited and made available for public policy-making or planning.

Furthermore, he said, accessibility and use of data were yet to receive the needed priority in Ghana and stressed the need for an overhaul of the national statistical system in order for the required data to be made available for diverse uses, including the regular tracking of development progress and international commitments such as the SDGs and the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063.

For his part, Dr John Effah, Head, Institutional Research and Planning, University of Ghana, underscored the importance of collaboration between statisticians and Information Technology (IT) solutions experts.

Prof. Effah also stressed the need for network technology and connectivity, provision of an IT infrastructure warehouse and the digitization of data in physical form.

Welcoming participants to the forum, Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Vice Chairman, NDPC, noted that timely and good quality data was a prerequisite for effective and efficient planning to achieve intended results.

Dr Ofei-Aboagye said learning from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) experience as well as to support Ghana’s commitment to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and its long-term development aspirations, there was the need for more standardized systems and co-ordinated data collection processes where the diverse needs of users could be efficiently and comprehensively met.

She said in response to this need, a capacity assessment of Ghana’s national statistical systems was underway, adding that the forum would provide the platform for the sharing of experiences of data producers and users, and serve as a mechanism for collecting additional information on the National Statistical System (NSS).

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)

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