Bawumia launches 100 days to 2021 census night

Development Discourse with Amos Safo Digitalisation and the battle against crime  
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

Vice President Dr. Mahamadou Bawumia has launched the 100 days to 2021 census night, which will effectively take certain important data of the country.

The data the census will take include the total number of persons living in the country; the gender mix; the age mix; birth and death and migration; what people do for a living; the quality of housing; and access to public services such as health and education.

On the said day, which is 27th June 2021, a census official known as an enumerator will visit each household and administer a questionnaire to the head of household, or any other adult in the household.

Those who will be enumerated or asked questions include all persons who spend the census night in a household in Ghana; all persons who spend the census night in an institution (group quarters) in Ghana; and; all outdoor sleepers and those in transit in Ghana (floating population) on census night.

This means that anyone who does not spend the census night in Ghana will not be counted. This includes Ghanaians living abroad and babies born after the census night.

Speaking at the launch, Vice President Dr. Bawumia commended the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) for putting in place the needed structures and resources to ensure smooth organisation of the census.

“I am highly impressed that the GSS has incorporated an ICT module in the census to ascertain the level of digital application and access in the country. Indeed, the census will provide comprehensive data on ICT access and usage in the country to enhance development in the sector.

“We are interested in the penetration in 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.

“The use of tablets for data capture will greatly improve data quality and reduce data processing time. Another is expansion of the questionnaire to collect detailed information on usage of ICT; including Internet usage, ownership of ICT devices and so on,” he said.

He further urged all to cooperate and participate in the programme, in order to arrive at the accurate data that will help in formulating practical economic policies and decisions.

“The 2021 census will provide important data for the formulation of policies to transform Ghana’s economy and spur economic development. Knowing the dynamics of how the population is changing helps us in planning our education needs, where to locate health facilities, how to allocate our social expenditures, and identify those who need help the most in our society.

“COVID-19 uncovered some of the weaknesses in our social protection for many, especially with their access to health and housing. Let us take advantage of the pandemic to re-group in many areas of our everyday lives, and the census can only help with that information and concrete data,” he said.

He reiterated government’s commitment to supporting the census to make it a success, saying government has already mobilised and disbursed GH¢449.7million out of a budget of GH₵521.3million for conducting the 2021 census.

How technology will play a role in 2021 census

According to the GSS, the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) is leveraging technology to implement several interventions toward ensuring complete and accurate coverage. First, elaborate, and skillful use of GIS technology and geospatial resources ensure collecting the GPS coordinates of all structures; and ensure that enumerators know how and where to locate households and persons for enumeration.

Second, elaborate arrangements have been made to identify and enumerate populations by specific residential categories, including the hard to reach or enumerate groups.

Third, a competitive recruitment process and rigorous training and assessment programmes, comprising sustained virtual and in-person engagements, are being implemented to ensure the deployment of competent personnel for data collection.

Fourth, during data collection, real-time monitoring and continuous data validation will be undertaken at the various levels of operations (supervisory area, district, region, and national) to continuously assess data quality and, especially, check for gaps, overlaps and inconsistencies.

Finally, elaborate campaigns and public sensitisation programmes will create an alert, enthusiastic and proactive public to avoid duplications, and report any omissions or even fabrications. A Call Centre will be used to both receive inbound calls from households and persons that may not have been listed and/or enumerated, and make outbound calls to randomly selected households to confirm they have indeed been enumerated.

In addition, census complete-coverage champions will be identified all over the country, and especially in every locality to assist residents and certify complete coverage in the respective localities.

The GSS further wants to make it clear that no one needs to travel to his or her hometown for the census, as census officials will visit every household and institution (boarding houses, hospitals, hotels etc.) to enumerate the persons residing there. Persons who are homeless or in transit on census night will also be enumerated where they are found that night.

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