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05.12.2005 General News

Minister calls for preventing errors during census

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Accra, Dec. 5, GNA - Mr Kwadowo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on Monday called for an effective means of preventing errors in the provision of data during survey and censuses for development and economic growth.

He said the use of quality assurance systems at each step of the multiple, inter -related tasks associated with surveys and censuses, was a proactive way to prevent errors before they happened. Mr Baah-Wiredu said this when he opened a three-week regional training workshop on methodology and software (CSPro) for survey and census data processing for Anglophone Africa.

The workshop, with 31 participants from Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho was organised by the Ghana Statistical Service in conjunction with United States Census Bureau, Ghana and Dakar UNFPA Country Support Team. Participants would be introduced to a new software called Census and Survey processing Systems (CSPro) designed to enhance the ability to collect, analyse and disseminate data for surveys and censuses. It is a joint a effort of the US Census Bureau, Macro International, and Serpro to combine the best technical features of earlier software with a user-friendly interface to enhance the work of individuals and institutions that collect, analyse and publish census and survey data.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said data collected, processed and analysed through surveys and censuses guided every economy in its policy design, planning and monitoring of its development effort.

"The reliability, timeliness and dissemination of this data are, however, dependent on the manner the data is collected, processed, analysed and disseminated."

He said Ghana and some countries on the African Continent had for long been grappling with problems with timeliness in the release and dissemination of surveys and census results, adding, "either the results get released at the tail end of our planned period or when a cycle is completed by which time the data would have lost their usefulness". He said the Government welcomed the training, which would equip the statistical staff to use different methods to produce quality data, to be processed, analysed and disseminated on time, "since the country is only five years away from the next census, 2010".

"We need data that will tell the number of people employed, the unemployed, new jobs created in a month or quarter and the number of people employable for national development planning and growth".

Mr Makane Kane, UNFPA Country Representative, in a speech read for him, said the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the objectives of NEPAD and the various national development plans depended on the quality of information and data available. He called on participants to keep in mind the specific challenges regarding the accurate measurement of progress towards the achievement of national development goals and objectives of MDGs and NEPAD objectives.

Dr Grace Bediako, Chief Statistician, also in a speech read for her, reiterated the need to have effective means to minimise errors in surveys and censuses and to improve on quality, timeliness and on the dissemination of results for increase utilisation.

Dr Lamlenn Samson, Regional Advisor on Population Data at the UNFPA, Dakar Office, said African census failed because of high cost and the length of time involved in collecting data and called for ways of reducing cost and time since every country needed vital information and indicators to measure its development.