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21.07.2005 Business & Finance

GSS builds national database system


Accra, July 21, GNA - Investors, the international community, students and the public would now breathe a sigh of relief following the establishment of a central database system by the nation's premier statistical service.

The database system, known as the GhanaInfo, which has all the information on Ghana, was developed by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and aims at providing a one-stop shop for statistical indicators and offer easy and immediate access to a wide range of dispersed data. GhanaInfo would be launched on Tuesday, July 26 and after that it would be available on compact discs and would contain a compilation of statistics and indicators on a wide range of topics organized and stored in the electronic medium.

Dr Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, told journalists in Accra on Thursday that information in the database would later be hosted onto a website.

She observed that statistics was an essential resource not only for government but also for the private sector, civil society and the general population as well as for international organisations. She said the dearth of relevant policy information limits the application of practical development strategies and the effectiveness of development plans saying, "...without statistics the country's progress will at best be slow.

"For more effective strategic planning, it is critical to know precisely where we are with respect to the key indicators..., where we want to be within a specified period... the chances of achieving our set targets...and how we are progressing."

Dr Bediako said the nation needed statistics to plan, monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies and programmes but for the statistics to meaningfully influence the diverse decision-making processes, they should be timely, relevant and viable. The GSS is, therefore, collaborating with the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the gathering and compiling of the required data.

Some of the MDAs are already serving on a technical advisory committee that was put together by the GSS and the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) who are collaborators in the development of the database.

Dr Bediako said in developing the database, the stakeholders were faced with a series of challenges. She said there were a lot of data but they were scattered in the different institutions that produced them. There was also a serious deficit in the supply of statistical information because they were not compiled into meaningful indicators and formats.

"The GhanaInfo is thus a timely response from the Ghana Statistical Service and NDPC... to the pressing demands for reliable and up-to-date statistics", Dr Bediako said.

She said the facility had a highly desirable feature that should facilitate widespread usage even by non-technical users. For instance, a user of the database could select a line of item of information on girls in school and request the system to display the information in tables, map or graph format.

More importantly, the Government Statistician expressed the hope that the system would provide an effective means to monitor and evaluate the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and provide the needs of international agencies and relevant goals such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Dr Bediako said programmes like the MDGs were being considered for inclusion at the onset so that national institutions would be in a position to meet international reporting requirements promptly. The GSS would train officers from the MDAs and other institutions to appreciate the need to update and provide prompt data.

To facilitate easy flow of information, its use and understanding, the Service would also organise a series of workshops and training programmes at the regional and district levels.

United Nations organisations such as the UNICEF and British Department for International Development supported the project. Mr Francis Yankey, Cordinator of GhanaInfo, said the compact discs would be provided at no cost to users. 21 July 2005