Ghana Paves the Way to a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

In Ghana, as across Africa, national statistical services are facing growing demands for data to monitor and to achieve ambitious national, regional and global plans for economic growth, human development and environmental protection. Fortunately, new technologies, approaches, methods of collecting data, and engagement of different stakeholders offer new opportunities to rise to this data challenge.

In response to these challenges and opportunities, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), in collaboration with the SDGs Implementation Coordination Committee and with support from the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) and UNDP, and with guidance from the UN Data Group, hosted a National Data Roadmap Forum from April 5-6, 2017 in Accra. The aim was to determine how to move forward regarding the production of and access to relevant user-friendly data, as well as to enable the achievement and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Forum marked the beginning of Ghana’s data roadmap process which will run in parallel over the lifetime of the SDGs.

The two-day forum was an opportunity for stakeholders to meet and discuss new ways of working to generate and use the data required for the SDGs, as well as meet with counterparts from other countries and experts in particular areas. While the Forum is just the beginning of the data roadmap process, the long-term expected outcomes are to identify the following:

  • Opportunities to align national development priorities and the SDGs.
  • Key data and technology gaps and potential of new methods, sources of data, and technologies to address them.
  • Ghana’s data ecosystem and fostering the creation of sector-specific and cross-cutting data communities.
  • Key issues on funding, resources, and capacity to be used as inputs for a development partners' round table and follow-up activities.
  • Commitments to support the Ghana Data Roadmap for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Baah Wadieh, Acting Government Statistician of Ghana Statistical Service, opened the Forum by calling all stakeholders to develop a harmonious data ecosystem and establishing a cross-government and multi-stakeholder committee to support and lead the data roadmap process. Before the Vice-President’s keynote address, all organizing partners provided solidarity messages. Dr. Claire Melamed, GPSDD's Executive Director, reiterated that in order to change the world we are living in, we need to understand it. Minister of Finance, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta also provided some remarks stressing the importance of timely, quality statistics to lead policymaking and sustainable development. 

The Ghanaian Times. Thursday, April 6, 2017.

The Ghanaian Times. Thursday, April 6, 2017.

"Ghana’s attainment of the SDG goals will critically be underpinned by a robust data regime that is collectively supported by all partners, including the private sector, academia, NGOs, bilateral, and non-bilateral institutions […]," stated Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Ghana’s Vice-President. He noted that while the wrong data leads to the wrong policies, most governments underinvest in data collection, and Ghana should invest in its data systems thinking in the return of investments they will provide in the long-term. “Whereas in the past, we have been satisfied with national or regional averages, we now seek information at the district level to adequately reflect the different realities and diversities of our beloved country,” Dr. Bawumia concluded. (Please find more information on an article that the Graphic Online published on April 6, 2017, written by Severious Kale-Dery and Charles Andoh.)

Once the Forum was inaugurated, the first day followed with several sessions on key topics, such as Ghana’s approach to implementation of the SDGs. This session invited key governmental and non-governmental institutions to discuss how to align the SDGs with national development priorities, what assessments had taken place thus far, and which key initiatives around the SDGs have occurred or were planned in the short-term. There was also an opportunity for other countries, such as Kenya, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, to share their national experiences on implementing a data roadmap process, and their activities around data production and use for the SDGs.

The Forum’s second day dug deeper into the conversations related to innovative methods and tools, the potential of administrative data, the production of disaggregated data, and open data for the SDGs, among many others. The leadership and vision shown by the Vice-President, the Minister of Finance, and GSS throughout the Forum, made clear that Ghana is poised to be a real leader in harnessing the data revolution for sustainable development. The Forum ended with a discussion, led by Dr. Melamed, about the key priorities, opportunities, and commitments to move forward Ghana’s data roadmap process.

For more information on the Ghana’s Data for Sustainable Development Roadmap Forum, please go to the following resources: