The Data for Good Partnership, a unique public-private partnership and not-for-profit initiative to support evidence-based decision-making for the wellbeing of all in Ghana, has been renewed between Vodafone Ghana, the Flowminder Foundation, and Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). The project also received funding support from Vodafone Foundation.
As 2023 begins, Ghana Statistical Service, Vodafone Ghana and the Flowminder Foundation are drawing attention to the importance of intensifying the development of statistics on the African continent. With this in mind, and with their objectives and milestones set for the year to come, the Data for Good project partners are taking this opportunity to publicly announce the renewal of a successful partnership – which took roots back in October 2017 – with the signing of Phase 2 of the Data for Good Partnership Agreement which enables Vodafone Ghana, the Flowminder Foundation, and GSS to continue, and enhance their collaboration in using pseudonymised and aggregated mobile operator data to estimate population distributions and trends of population movements across Ghana for development and humanitarian purposes.
The signing of a partnership agreement helps guide the partners and stakeholders in the goals and objectives that are to be pursued through the partnership. This partnership makes it possible to transform the production of official statistics, through the secure analysis of anonymised and aggregated Call Detail Records (CDR), a set of data routinely and automatically collected by the network operator for billing purposes.
This collaboration, which is the first of its kind in Ghana, and one of the first in Africa, is aimed at taking advantage of technology to drive evidence-based planning in the areas of health, disaster management and traffic management, among many others.
The Renewed Partnership Agreement will seek to achieve four broad goals:
- Increased utilisation and usability of CDR data
- Enhanced capacity within the National Statistical System of Ghana to support the integration of mobile operator data into official statistics.
- Continuous access to Call Detail Records data, and
- Commitment to learning to enhance development planning nationally and across Africa.
Referring to the essence of this innovation, the Government Statistician, Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim, has noted: “Understanding changes in mobility patterns is important…. The work conducted to date, including the production of various analyses to understand mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic, shows the power of mobile operator data analytics, and is a good example of how it can benefit anyone through its integration into our national statistical system.”
Cathy Riley, Strategic Partnerships Director of Flowminder Foundation, adds: “The Partnership aims to enhance the production of timely and relevant official statistics and indicators through the incorporation of aggregated, anonymised mobile phone data outputs into the National Statistical System. GSS, as its coordinator, will leverage those indicators to inform government operations, decision-making and policy formation for the well-being of all in Ghana, and may serve as a model of this approach to other countries in the region.
Alluding to the importance of the Data for Good Partnership Agreement, the Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Patricia Obo-Nai, says, “We are excited that this unique partnership is helping the government of Ghana estimate and monitor population movement for social good. The mobility insights from this project are indeed helping the country to better analyse and make predictions for the benefit of all, especially in the area of health. While we are thrilled to have reached this point in our journey, we know that this is only the beginning! We are motivated by the abundant opportunities this initiative will bring to Ghana.”
During the first phase of the partnership agreement, many broad achievements were realised, notably:
(i.) The establishment and operation of an effective Steering Committee which has demonstrated effective leadership by establishing strong frameworks for decision-making, and establishing eligibility criteria for access to anonymised and aggregated Call Detail Records
(ii.) Construction of a data pipeline, including installation of Flowminder’s CDR processing and analytical software toolkit, FlowKit, at Vodafone Ghana, behind their firewall (a type of cyber defence protecting IT systems from an external intrusion), and integration of a secure and protected interface that allows GSS staff to safely interact with FlowKit, after access approval from Vodafone, to process the anonymised, aggregated CDR data for analysis.
(iii.) Training of GSS staff to strengthen their data science skills and enable them to replicate simple analyses of mobility, among others.
(iv.) Publishing of three (3) Mobility Analysis Reports related to COVID-19 and movement restrictions.