Wednesday June 26, 2019
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Ghana Preparing for it’s First Digital Population, Housing Census

The census is expected to cost $84 million, around 50% more than the last census

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Ghana, Digital Population, Census
A government official tests an electronic questionnaire in Old Fadama, Accra’s largest slum, ahead of Ghana’s first digital population and housing census in 2020, May 24, 2019. VOA

In Accra’s district of Old Fadama, the largest slum in Ghana’s capital, a government official interrupts a group of men playing cards. The official carries a tablet and asks if anyone has time for a few questions to test an electronic questionnaire.

Ghana is preparing for its first digital population and housing census next March, joining Swaziland, Malawi and Kenya as one of the first countries in Africa to collect data electronically.

Long-time resident Mohammed Basiru volunteers. He was missed out of the head count during Ghana’s previous census in 2010 because he was traveling overnight from the northern city of Tamale.

At that time, questionnaires were on paper. It took months to gather and assemble the data, and around 3% of the population was left out of the survey.

Ghana, Digital Population, Census
Satellite imagery shows the growth of Accra’s urban area between 2010 (above) and 2018 (below). The government is using satellite technology to prepare for its first digital population and housing census in 2020. VOA

Now the government will be going digital, using tablets and satellite images to improve the reach of enumerators and make sure everyone in Ghana is counted on census night.

Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia said the data would help fight inequality.

“We must count everyone and make everyone accountable to pay their fair share in taxes that would be used to target assistance to those who may not have had access to critical social services previously,” said Bawumia at an event last week.

The census is expected to cost $84 million, around 50% more than the last census. The government has contracted around 60,000 enumerators, but is still working with the United Nations on how best to source the 65,000 tablets required to conduct the surveys.

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Officials say Kenya may be able to lend out the tablets after it completes its first digital census later this year.

Araba Forson, chief statistician for the Ghana Statistical Service, said technology would prevent enumerators from under-staffing densely populated areas — a problem encountered in 2010 because the population maps they used were out of date.

“Satellite imagery will tell us that there are people living in this part of the country that the enumerator may not have visited,” she said. “Using electronic data collection, we will be able to make sure that everyone has been covered.”

Ghana’s urban population has more than doubled during the past two decades, rising from 7 million in 1997 to almost 16 million in 2017, according to the World Bank.

Ghana, Digital Population, Census
Informal settlements in Accra’s Agbogbloshie slum, where residents were evicted by city authorities to make way for a railway track in Accra, Ghana, May 26, 2019. VOA

Many people have moved from poorer rural areas in search for work, joining the millions of street vendors and waste pickers who make up most of Ghana’s informal economy.

Together with the homeless, they are the “floating population” whom government statisticians want to capture better in their database.

And the stakes are higher this time, as the census will play a key part in the nationwide rollout of biometric ID cards launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2017. The new Ghana Card requires a digital address code, many of which will be generated by enumerators during the census.

In Agbogbloshie district, notorious for housing a toxic junkyard of electronic waste, community member Naa Ardo-Acquah said some slum dwellers were suspicious of the ID registration process.

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“In the Choko community, they thought the card means to tax,” she said. “The authorities didn’t sensitize them on it.”

Ardo-Acqhua hopes the new digital address system will stop city authorities from removing slum dwellers from their homes.

But distrust remains an issue, and officials testing tablets and marking houses in poorer areas said some of their numbers were later removed by informal residents who feared eviction.

“Our publicity and communication team has developed communication materials, both print and audiovisuals, that will be used to educate the people,” said Omar Seidu, a social statistician for the Ghana Statistical Service.

Ghana, Digital Population, Census
A church in Agbogbloshie slum hosts a registration center for a biometric ID card launched by Ghana’s president in 2017. VOA

Seidu said his team would be working closely with community leaders before the census to make sure the process is understood.

Ardo-Acqhua has said she still worries the government will not send enough staff to Agbogbloshie. She spent days helping people register for their ID cards at centers set up by the National Identification Authority, and said many were discouraged by long lines.

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“They only came for three days and less than half the community was able to sign up,” she said. “I don’t know what they are going to do about that.” (VOA)

Next Story

Would You Give Up Digital Life if Given Lifetime Data Protection?

Many prefer not to have certain facts about themselves revealed in public

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Digital, Life, Data
Several years ago, people shared their private information with social media services in exchange for various benefits, without even thinking about the potential threats. Pixabay

Would you give up your digital life if all your personal information – passwords, posts, pictures, videos, jokes, memes, GIFs etc – remain private for the rest of your life or given back to you, with no duplicate data saved in the Dark Web?

For four in 10 people (38 per cent), this is a steal deal as consumers’ personal information is becoming incredibly valuable to them, says a latest report from global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

Social media services like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter have become a significant part of our lives and according to Kaspersky’s report, 82 per cent of people now use them globally.

Several years ago, people shared their private information with social media services in exchange for various benefits, without even thinking about the potential threats and their consequences.

Digital, Life, Data
For four in 10 people (38 per cent), this is a steal deal as consumers’ personal information is becoming incredibly valuable. Pixabay

“With a rising number of data leaks around the world, we are seeing a new trend among consumers. Many prefer not to have certain facts about themselves revealed in public and are paying more attention to the information they share with online services,” says Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky.

However, the majority still don’t know how to protect their digital privacy and would give up social media to guarantee their information remains secure.

The truth is: Your data is up for grabs everywhere – be it tech companies, advertisers or marketers.

After facing flak for using unethical and discreet ways of collecting user-information, Facebook has now decided to pay Android users in India and the US just to monitor how they use their phones.

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The social networking giant has launched a new app called Study which is available for download on Google’s Play Store for Android users aged 18 and above.

The app would not only monitor installed apps on a person’s phone but also observe the amount of time spent on those apps along with details like the users’ location and additional app data which could reveal other specific features being used.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Facebook was secretly paying users aged 13 to 35 up to $20 per month, plus referral fees, to install a “Facebook Research” Virtual Private Network (VPN) that was letting the company access user’s data.

According to Kaspersky’s report titled, “The true value of digital privacy: are consumers selling themselves short?”, fears surrounding protecting digital privacy have made consumers more anxious about the use and distribution of their personal information on the Internet.

Digital, Life, Data
Social media services like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter have become a significant part of our lives. Pixabay

However, despite these various benefits, some would still opt out of social media if it helped to restore their digital privacy forever.

One in 10 (12 per cent) people who give away their personal information to register for fun quizzes, such as what celebrity they look like or what their favourite meal is, would not be able to do so anymore.

It may be even more problematic, though, for 58 per cent people who would no longer be able to use their social login details to quickly and conveniently authorize themselves on different websites or services.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, at a time when the number of mobile phone users is rising 2 per cent year-on-year, one-in-five (19 per cent) would be ready to wave goodbye to their handsets altogether to guarantee their data remains private for the rest of their life.

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Unfortunately, even sacrificing your entire social media presence wouldn’t be sufficient to protect digital privacy an it’s a process, not a one-time deal that can be bargained for.

“Keeping personal information safe – by regularly updating social media account passwords and using security solutions – will give consumers more confidence in the security of their data online,” said Titova. (IANS)