Prof Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician

The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has strongly defended the population and housing census, insisting it is needed to aid in the recovery and development of the economy and future planning. 

Speaking on PM Express Business Edition, Government statistician Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim noted that “the benefits of carrying out this exercise, so enormous, that the amount being spent should not be an issue now”.

This is because there has been the necessary due diligence done to ensure that there is value for money, and the data coming out of this exercise may even go a long way to improve the livelihood of Ghanaians, he told host George Wiafe on June 3.

The Government statistician responded to concerns that about ¢521 million being spent on this exercise was unnecessary, especially when the economy is facing some challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were also calls for the event to be postponed as well.

“What are we putting a premium on is an exercise that will save lives in terms of the data that will be produced at the end of the day,” he noted.

Prof Annim said comparing the upcoming exercise to other countries in Africa that have carried out a similar move in recent times, Ghana is spending the lowest amount per head.

Ghana and the Population and Housing Census

The 2021 PHC will comprise a listing exercise to identify and number all structures, an enumeration phase to enumerate (count and collect information on) all persons and a post-enumeration survey to evaluate the Census.

For the 2021 census, the country has been delineated into over 51,000 enumeration areas to facilitate complete coverage.

Ancillary geo-spatial data layers (satellite imagery, building footprints, scores of difficulty) were used to validate and complement the Census mapping work (including the use of interactive maps). A list of over 131,000 localities across the country has also been compiled.

Delivering a “paperless census” for Ghana is a key feature in the 2021 PHC. Adopting mobile data capture means changing from paper to an electronic questionnaire, affecting the entire census process. Traditionally, censuses in Ghana have been conducted using paper questionnaires, manuals, and maps.

This innovation of using mobile devices means adopting a digital and environmentally friendly approach. Going green will save the country approximately the printing of over 7 million household questionnaires.

In preparation for the 2021 PHC, three trial censuses and two trial post enumeration surveys will be used to test overall preparedness to undertake the Census successfully.

Status of Population and Housing Census

Speaking on PM Express, the Government Statistician noted that they have made significant progress in terms of putting all necessary structures in places for the census.

He noted that they are currently training the various enumerators and the statistical service hopes to complete the process by 11 June 2021.

It will then move no to carry out what they described as listing of structures in the country, he added.

This is expected to aid in the enumeration across the country. 

“The enumerators are going to use some advance technology that will aid and make it easier in the collection of data”  

This exercise will also ensure that no structure and its inhabitants are missed during the enumeration process and the households that are in these structures, he added.

Key dates for the Population and Housing census process

13th June 2021- Listing of structures 

27th June 2021 – Census Night

28th June to 11th July 2021

Benefits of Population and Housing census on economy and businesses

Professor Samuel Kobina Annim noted that data produced will help businesses when it comes to planning, location of industries and factories as well as the required labour force out there.

He added that the service is in a position to produced customized data for those firms that might need it to aid their planning.

“This should demonstrate that this exercise is for everyone” Government statistician

“It will also help firms that are in the housing finance business and manufacturing in terms of demand for houses” he added.

Professor Annim added that “when it comes to businesses, planning is critical, and don’t forget that this data, will be of great in helping them to achieve that”

On the governmental level, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim noted that it will ensure a more targeted policy formulation based on the data that they will be coming out with.

He added that “it will also help policymakers to make realistic development plans such as the provision of pipe-borne water, construction of some social amenities”

At the community level, the Government statistician believes that data collected on socioeconomic and housing conditions will allow for identifying vulnerable individuals and households targeted for the necessary support.

The future of Population and Housing Census in Ghana

The Government Statistician also noted that in future, they will be looking at an administrative approach when it comes to the population and housing census rather than rely on the in-person enumeration.

But he, however, maintained that for this to happen certain systems and structures in the country, for processes like telephone-based interview or internet.

“But the challenge now is that have been build the capacity of Ghanaians to them to independently answer these questions? “ he added