FEATURE19 February 2020

Making people visible

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Features Impact Middle East and Africa Public Sector Trends

Ghana is preparing for a paperless census as it looks to collect better data and harness innovation to tackle inequality. By Katie McQuater.


This spring, Ghana will conduct its once-a-decade population and housing census using tablets instead of paper questionnaires for the first time. It will join a handful of other African countries moving to handheld tablets for electronic data collection in their surveys as the country looks to drive a modernisation agenda.

There are various benefits of collecting data electronically using computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) devices – it is faster and allows those working on the census to begin analysing its findings more quickly. “Data can be collected in a more unified fashion, it can be validated at the time of capture and transmitted far more quickly than it takes to move paper surveys around the country, ” explains Sophie Elfar, who is part of the Office for National Statistics’ international development team and strategic adviser to Ghana Statistical Service (GSS).

“Ghana has used handheld tablets for smaller-scale surveys, but this is the first time they’re going to be used for a population ...