GSS to impact policy with inclusive business register by Q1 next year


The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) will conduct a census on all commercial activities nationwide in the first quarter of 2023, to enable the service compile a comprehensive business register for policy-making purposes.

A Principal Economic Statistician at the GSS, Dominic Odoom, speaking to the B&FT said the motivation behind this census and register compilation is to enable the GSS have a fair idea of how many businesses are operating in the country and in which sectors they are they operating.

“When there are shocks and authorities want to bring in mitigating measures and interventions, there must be data on the number of businesses in that particular sector and which geographical area they are operating from,” he said.

Mr. Odoom was speaking at a workshop on ‘Improving Firms and Market Efficiencies in Ghana – the role of spatial factors’, hosted by the International Growth Centre-Ghana.

The database from the upcoming census, according to him, will be made live during shockwaves to provide clues for government on how to deal with negative economic and natural occurrences. “Government needs the numbers in order to target and bring the necessary interventions and right policy measures.”

Currently, there is no available data or business register that is supposed to give information for government to target affected people and their location – especially in the event of economic shocks – for well-informed policy targetting.

Key collaborations for the business register

Technical support for the upcoming census and register, according to Mr. Odoom, is being obtained from Statistics Norway.

“Norway is trying to help some developing countries, including Ghana to keep vital data with regard to businesses: who they are, where they are operating and the specific sectors,” he said.

Statistics Norway is currently assisting Uganda, Kenya and Somalia with similar applications and software to streamline and build a robust business register in those countries.

The GSS is collaborating with the Registrar-General’s Department, MMDAs, among other stakeholders to develop the register.

Every decade, the Ghana Statistical Service conducts the Integrated Business Establishment Survey (IBES) – a census of all non-household establishments.

The last one, in 2014, collected limited information on 638,000 firms across all sectors of the economy which together employ 3.4 million workers. It also collected detailed information on input use, output levels and various firm characteristics for a subset of almost 25,000 firms (IBES2).

The data indicate that economic activities are highly concentrated in the regional capitals; moreover, half of the IBES2 firms are located in Accra. This raises questions about equitable spatial development, resource allocation and the efficiency of markets.

About the workshop

At the workshop, two resource persons – Emmanuel B. Mensah (University of Groningen) and Johannes Van Biesebroeck (KU Leuven) – used the last census data to learn how efficiently firms and markets allocate production factors, labour and capital, and then relate it to spatial factors.

The data, which they described as a unique and underused source of information, indicated that in Ghana, as in other countries, factors of production or resources are often misallocated.

“For example, less productive enterprises may receive more capital than more productive enterprises due to political connections,” they said.


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