As the 2021 England and Wales Census collection comes to a close, Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) is entering the final countdown to its Population and Housing Census (PHC), being held on the 27th June.

The PHC will count every person in Ghana and also collect information about types of housing structures and quality of homes. Similar to the censuses in the UK, Ghana’s PHC is the country’s biggest data collection operation and the statistics will inform decisions on public services, like planning schools, housing, health care services, as well as public provisions including access to clean water and toilet facilities.

2021 has seen many digital revolutions when it comes to census collection. It was the first year that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) adopted a ‘digital first’ approach to the England and Wales census, and it’s also the first year that Ghana Statistical Service will be going digital, using tablets to record data electronically.

Whilst the majority of the population in the UK will complete their census online after receiving a unique code, in Ghana, census officials will visit each household to conduct interviews. Therefore, the tablets will greatly help to collect data in real time, improve quality and minimise the processing period so that data can be released faster than in previous years.

The 2021 PHC will also be the first to use GPS to capture the location of all structures and localities, improving analysis and ensuring complete coverage.

The Authority’s international development team (IDT) has been working with the Ghana Statistical Service  and the British High Commission in Ghana for nearly three years. This partnership was set up with an aim to help GSS build up their capability and modernise their processes by supporting a number of key projects, most notably the upcoming census.

The international development team has supported and advised on multiple elements of census planning to date, including communications campaigns, dissemination of outputs and strategic planning to maximise the benefits of an e-census.

There is a dedicated strategic advisor who offers specialised advice in person and support is available from experts who played major roles in running the 2011 and 2021 England and Wales censuses. Additionally, a number of virtual events were organised, in which staff from across the Authority and the ONS have shared their experiences and answered questions.

By using its network of partnerships with other countries and agencies, (e.g. UN Economic Commission for Africa) ONS has also been able to connect the team in Ghana with expertise and assistance from across Africa. For example, a digital dashboard has been created which allows census officials at the Ghana headquarters to see virtually ‘real-time’ progress on the enumeration enabling them to act quickly to head off potential problems.

On Ghana’s last Census Night on 26th September 2010, the total population of Ghana was 24,658,823. As the Ghana Statistics Service marks 30 days till their 2021 census, they will be making final preparations and looking forward to seeing how their population has grown and changed over the last decade.

The work happening in Ghana is one of a number of partnerships run by the international development team which aim to enable statisticians worldwide to harness the power of data for the public good.