The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has inaugurated a 12 -member Steering Committee (SC) to oversee the implementation of the Call Detailed Records (CDR) Project under the Big Data for Good Initiative.
The SC has representations from the GSS, Vodafone Ghana, National Communications Authority, Ministry of Health, National Development Planning Commission, National Disaster Management Organisation, Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services, Ministry of Planning and Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications.
The Board Chair of the GSS, Dr Grace Bediako, who inaugurated the SC, said the inauguration of the SC marked the beginning of a new era for data statistics in Ghana, pointing out that data had taken centre stage of the global development discourse and the world was increasingly realising the critical importance of data for planning and managing an economy.
The Terms of Reference of the SC, she said include the provision of direction and guidance to ensure the success of the CDR Project, the development of use case, and utilisation of results from key government institutions and also oversee the implementation, and capacity building components of the project within the grant period.
Dr Bediako said the goal of the CDR Project is to strengthen the capacity of the GSS to enable the Service to incorporate anonymised, aggregated mobile phone metadata from Vodafone Ghana into the production of official statistics.
The two-year project, which started in January 2018 and would end 2020 and financed by the Vodafone Group Foundation and Hewlett Foundation, is being implemented by Flowminder, an international non-profit organisations in collaboration with the GSS.
The GSS Board Chair explained that the CDR Project sought to explore new and innovative ways of addressing the data needs and challenges in the production of official statistics by exploiting the advancement of technology and its use for Ghana's transformation.
She said technology held great potential for data production and utilisation, stressing that "when we deploy technology in delivering services, we enhance the profitability of generating data from them in real time."
In view of the growing demand for spatial information in real-time, the statistical community was confronted with the need to innovate around data production, analysis, dissemination and use, indicating that one of such avenues was the use of CDR to provide an alternative type of spatial data that could add to, or augment routine data collections to introduce new opportunities in statistical data production with relatively high level of accuracy, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
"This partnership will afford GSS with the expertise and capacity to explore the full potential in the use of CDRs to help deepen the understanding of migration patterns within and between regions in Ghana to inform policies in areas such as conflict prevention, disaster response and humanitarian aid and public health," she said.
The Head of Vodafone Group and Director of Hewlett Foundations, Andrew Dinnett said the two institutions were committed to partnering national governments and institutions to put measures in place to tackle emergencies and outbreak of diseases.
He said Vodafone Group Foundation and Hewlett Foundation had provided 644,000 Pounds Sterling to fund the CDR Project.
Mr Dinnett said the entire legal framework and structure had been put in place to ensure smooth implementation of the CDR Project.
The Deputy Government Statistician in charge of Services, Mr David Kombat commended Vodafone Ghana, Vodafone Group Foundation and Hewlett Foundation for their support to the CDR Project and appealed to other mobile network operators to provide data for the project.