Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Representative of the Honourable Minister of Finance
Heads of the various United Nations Organisations in Ghana
Our Development Partners
The Acting Government Statistician
Executive Director of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data
Local and International Panelists
Distinguished Invited Guests
Members of the Press
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour and a privilege to be asked to give an address on this very important occasion. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ghana Statistical Service, which is working in collaboration with the SDG Implementation Committee and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data in putting this important conference together.
The post 2015 SDG agenda provides an unprecedented context for a collective global push to address development challenges. Fundamentally underpinning this context is a transformative element that combines sustainability, inclusiveness and financing, for the first time. The SDGs embrace a broad development vision and framework that is anchored on an ambitious agenda (17 SGDs) with large financial footprints.
In this regard, ladies and gentlemen, the adoption of the SDGs at the time of the Data revolution provides us with unparalleled opportunities to track implementation of these ambitious goals at every level of our society. Country-level commitments to the SDGs will not be feasible without fast-tracking the data revolution to provide the right information at the right time that is universally accessible to all. Ghana’s attainment of its SDG goals will be critically underpinned by a robust data regime that is collectively supported by all partners, including the private sector, academia, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral institutions in a harmonized manner.
Ladies and gentlemen, at this critical juncture when the amount of data churned out on a daily basis is progressively increasing, with constantly evolving technologies for data collection, analysis and communication, it becomes our shared responsibility to galvanize towards harnessing this revolution for the betterment of our citizens. Whether you are a data producer or user, an innovator or policy-maker, each of you in this room today has a stake in the data revolution and have therefore been invited to contribute your unique skills and knowledge to this Forum.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the link between data and development is often misrepresented or poorly understood, I would like to reiterate the important synergies between the two. Broadly speaking, data is fundamental in showcasing our past successes vis-à-vis development, as well as the status quo; on the basis of which we can predict much needed future developments. Unfortunately, however, both data production and data use have thus far been limited; not reaching their full potential in Ghana and many other countries.
The SDGs mark a watershed moment in the history of statistics – propelling and bringing statistics to the very core of development. Now, more than ever, statistics has moved from being a simple tool for progress monitoring and evaluation, to becoming a key driver of development programs that allows for more accurate targeting of interventions, development of new products and services, and better accountability among decision-makers. With increasing demand for more and better quality data, the SDGs require a step-change in the types, methods and actors involved in data production and use.
Ladies and gentlemen, to sufficiently respond to the call to Leave No One Behind on which Agenda 2030 is premised, data will have to become more disaggregated than ever before. Whereas in the past we (as Ghanaians) may have been satisfied with national or regional averages, we now seek information at district levels to adequately reflect the different realities and diversity of our beloved country. Similarly, we must produce more and better information on the lived realities of women and men, boys and girls to root out gender inequalities and begin to address structural discrimination that undermine women and men’s progress in Ghana. Information on other marginalized groups should be systematically produced and used towards their advancement.
Alongside the challenge of disaggregation is that of producing data on thematic areas that have hitherto not been areas of focus for the official statistics community.
Ladies and gentlemen, the first theme of this Forum, “Addressing Data Gaps” will outline the challenges in more detail, while also exploring the quick wins, exciting innovations, and areas in need of long-term commitment and investments to ensure that Ghana will fulfill its global reporting requirements as well as generate relevant data to improve Ghanaian lives.
Acknowledging that censuses/ surveys will continue to be the cornerstone of any solid data system, this theme will in particular emphasize the importance of building the administrative data system and ensuring harmonization and interoperability between databases. Ghana has recently made strides in this area. For example, through the implementation of a new Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Strategy and an ambitious National Identification Programme which together will be powerful tools to capture and record the most significant events in Ghanaians lives while enabling better public services simultaneously. Of increasing importance too are new sources and types of data, which can be utilized in conjunction with traditional datasets to contribute additional layers of information and allow us to ask new questions about our society.
This brings me to the second theme “Encouraging Data Use”. As I mentioned earlier, data is not only envisaged as a way to measure progress but rather to be used to drive progress itself. This can only be achieved when data producers and users engage in an iterative feedback loop, ensuring that data produced matches user needs. This refers not only to production of data but all other steps in the data cycle, ensuring that data is communicated and disseminated in a way that various users can easily comprehend, and in a format that allows the data to be used and re-used without restriction, i.e. Open Data. Once data producers have fulfilled these requirements, the onus will surely fall on decision-makers in all sectors to use this data.
Indeed, the tasks and opportunities that lay ahead are exciting and daunting in equal measure. The third theme of the Forum “Strengthening the Data Ecosystem” acknowledges that the traditional National Statistical System, comprising GSS and selected Ministries, Departments and Agencies, alone will not be able to produce all of the data required for the SDGs, and for other national and regional agendas to which Ghana is committed. Indeed, apart from data production, stakeholders represented here today will play key roles in encouraging the use of data, in creating policy, legislation, and regulation that facilitate data sharing, providing expertise in the use of new technologies and types of data, and in supporting through resource allocation or in other ways the entire data ecosystem. Over the next 2 days, I would encourage you all to form new data communities either around particular thematic areas or cross-cutting issues so that we can continue to learn from one another and work together in the coming years.
As the Forum’s title suggests, we are here to begin conversations around a National Data Roadmap for Sustainable Development. It is important to stress that this Roadmap is not a document that we will produce by the end of this week, month, or year. Rather it will be a living process that will continue to evolve until 2030 and will require ongoing concerted efforts from us all. I am particularly gratified to have with us representatives from other countries who can share experiences of their Roadmap processes. Alongside our international participants who have come to share their expertise with us, we will use the next 2 days to achieve the following:
- Identify opportunities to align national development priorities and SDGs.
- Identify key data and technology gaps and potential new methods, sources of data and technologies to address them.
- Understand the data ecosystem in Ghana and foster the creation of sector-specific and cross-cutting data communities.
- Identify key issues on funding, resources, and capacity.
Ladies and gentlemen, we all appreciate the potential of data to drive the development of our country. I look forward to discussing over the coming two days, the most promising ways to unlock this potential to ensure that Ghana achieves its development priorities; making the vision of The World We Want, a reality.
Thanks for your attention, and I wish you all a fruitful deliberation.