Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Statistics • COVID-19 response

Interview with Prof. Samuel Annim, Government Statistician of Ghana


This article is also available in Russian.

In an effort to support national statistical offices and partners around the world during the outbreak of COVID-19, the United Nations Statistics Division has launched a conducting a series of interviews with representatives at the front lines of national statistical systems responding to the pandemic. Professor Samuel Annim, in conversation with Deirdre Appel from Open Data Watch, shares his thoughts and experiences on the response of Ghana Statistical Service to the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

What are the main challenges your organization is facing in responding to COVID-19?

I will make an attempt to respond to this from three perspectives. The first perspective is about the challenges within the Ghana Statistical Service. Second, I'll look at some national level challenges that we are facing and that are impacting adversely on the activities of Ghana Statistical Service. And thirdly, I want to touch on some global issues that I think are impacting also adversely on our activities as Ghana Statistical Service.

Within Ghana Statistical Service, one of our main challenges had to do with the realization of what is now called “the new world” that we find ourselves in. As GSS, we had a responsibility to let colleagues know that things are not as usual, and that we needed to adapt based on our human and financial resources. As we had to deploy new ways of working from home, we had to ask ourselves, for instance, whether all staff had access to data, had home environments that they could turn around easily to transform them into work environments, or had access to basic facilities such as laptops to work with. From the point of view of human resources, we had to see whether our technological skills setup would give us the opportunity to fully harness the use of ICT in the world of COVID-19. And another thing we had to think about internally was how to reorganize and refocus ourselves in the space of COVID-19, because definitely the crisis brought different sets of demands and expectations. So one challenge was to see how we could quickly readjust, refocus, and re-strategize, in order to meet these new demands.

At the national level, the situation was much more challenging for us because this was a period where a lot of policymakers were looking up to Ghana Statistical Service for data that we didn't think it was our responsibility to provide. A typical example is whether we had ventilators to accommodate any increase in infections, or whether we have adequate hospital beds to address the challenge. The question was whether we could set ourselves forward to address the diversity of data that is needed. So the expectations at the national level impacted on GSS capacity to respond adequately.

The other dimension that I want to talk about at the national level really had to do with the fact that we are drifting away from being a mere data production agency, to become an analytical institution. This is because monitoring the outcome of COVID-19 is not just about the infection rate—but it meant that we needed to analyze the data that we have to see whether the areas or activities where we are putting interventions in place are enabling us address COVID-19. So the need for analytical work prompted us to consider whether we can collaborate. So even initiatives to collaborate on platforms presented some challenges that we had to deal with.

On the global front, as we all know, COVID-19 has made us realize our “inadequacies” or lack of knowledge in terms of understanding what the pandemic is about. Globally, this lack of knowledge or lack of appreciation of the extent to which COVID-19 would impact on the global society did affect Ghana Statistical Service activities. As we speak, some of our major activities, about which I am happy to talk later, have been put on hold as we wait to get a good sense of how COVID-19 is going to abate moving forward.

It certainly seems like there's a tier of challenges that the Ghana Statistical Service is facing at the individual, the national and the global levels. Regarding continuing operations within the context of a global pandemic—how is your office ensuring the continuity and quality of key statistical operations in the face of restrictions to conduct field operations?

We had to quickly develop a business continuity plan at the onset of COVID-19. We initially developed a work from home policy, followed by a plan document to guide the continuity of our activities. I will restrict my response to three main data collection exercises, so that we get a sense of how Ghana Statistical Service has coped with its day-to-day activities following the COVID-19.

First, to start with one of our regular data collection issues, let me talk about the Consumer Price Index (CPI). COVID-19 first occurred in Ghana on the 12th of March, with two cases, and increased, like in all other countries, to a point that on the 27th of March the government decided to partially lock down the country for three weeks, from the 30th of March until to the 20th of April. We collect our prices in the first week of each month, so fortunately we were able to collect our prices for March even before the first COVID-19 case. And because we have dealt with these markets for a period of time, we have good relationships with them. This enabled us to deploy other methodologies, such as telephone calls, to collect the prices for the month of April. And for the month of May, the partial lockdown was lifted. From my point of view, as far as inflation or prices data collection is concerned, we have been lucky based on when the country was locked-down and the period within which we picked up our data. But having said this, we still had some challenges in the sense that this is the first time that we rely mainly on the outlets of the market sellers to provide some information to us, and we were not yet prepared with the adequate interventions to ensure quality data and processes to validate the data that we are getting from them.

So, moving forward, it is critical to diversify our data collection approaches and harness non-traditional data sources such as administrative data. This experience also gave us the opportunity to rethink how we impute data gaps. One of our policies is to conduct estimates to fill recent data gaps using price data from a couple of months back. As management, however, we clearly recognize that the use of previous months data as a representative for the current month is only appropriate in an “ideal”, very long-run, “normal” situation. But, in the type of event where that we are facing—a shock to an economy leading to a shock in prices—, this approach is not sufficient pick up the effect of COVID-19.

A second area that I want to emphaize is our national accounts data collection. From a broader perspective, we had challenges not only with collecting the data, but we also kept asking ourselves whether the timing of the release of GDP—-which is done on a quarterly basis—-would help when everybody is expecting that COVID-19 should impact output. As most developing countries do, GDP in Ghana is published on an annual and on a quarterly basis. We released the last quarter of 2019 in the first quarter of the 2020 calendar year, and soon we'll be releasing the first quarter of 2020. As management, we keep asking ourselves whether this is what the policy maker needs. The answer is certainly no; although we are compelled to release GDP at a time that COVID-19 had not impacted fully on the economy. So now we begin to think how to increase the frequency of our data collection and begin to think about some monthly data collection, to enable us respond to such shocks. So, in a way, COVID-19 is not impacting the computation of GDP, but the regularity and the relevance of the data that we are giving out.

The third and last data collection that I want to talk about is the national census, that we had earmarked for 2020, so we had scheduled 28 of June—which is a couple of weeks away from now—as our census reference. But in April, given that we are at the peak of COVID-19, we decided to reschedule the date. And packaging this information continues to be a struggle, because we are still not too sure about how COVID-19 is going to abate, so we have not been able to fix a new date for the census. This has led to a number of implications, including to some extent the politicization of the census activity. But the reason why as GSS we've been hesitant to put out a date is associated with the closure of our borders. As we all know, migration constitutes one of the three key factors in estimating or counting the number of people in a country; so, if we continue to have our borders closed without an indication of when they are going to reopen, we have to be careful in terms of whether we are going to estimate a value for migration or wait for the borders to open and do a proper counting of people in the country. The other challenge is that 2020 coincides with the elections that we have every four years. So, towards the end of the year we will be having our national elections, and six months ahead of the elections is when electoral activities peak. Because of COVID-19, all the electoral activities, such as the voter registration exercise that had been scheduled for the first half of the year, had to be pushed. Just about a week ago a determination was made on the new day to start the new voter registration exercise, so really the likelihood of doing the census this year has been reduced to a very minimal percentage, because we definitely cannot do it close to the election, which is in December. So, the more likely option for conducting the census is sometime in the first quarter of 2021.

In summary, our key activities have been impacted in these different ways, compounded by the fact that COVID-19 has led us to begin to think about new data sources which, if time permits, I am happy to talk about.

Thank you professor. There is a long list of challenges here, but I am also picking up notes of opportunities that Ghana Statistical Service is taking advantage of in the response to COVID-19. What are the key national sources of data for monitoring this pandemic, whether it be the traditional ones or some of the non-traditional ones that you've just mentioned?

The sources of data for tracking COVID-19 in Ghana have mainly emanated from the Ministry of Health –the Ghana Health Service—and this is where we limit the monitoring of the pandemic from an infection, recovery, and death perspective. But once you want to scale up the dimensions of data sources for monitoring the pandemic, then it gives us an opportunity to widen the scope. I must emphasize that the Ghana Statistical Service made the realization that we need to consciously create an opportunity for people to look beyond the infection, recovery and the death rates that are associated with COVID-19. So to expand the sources of data we published on our website the COVID-19 dashboard, and using traditional data sources (specifically, the demographic health survey and the multiple indicator cluster survey) we created an opportunity for people to identify “hotspot” areas with high incidence of aging population, no compliance with hygiene protocols, high incidence of smokers, and so on. Using this historical data, we present on our website hotspots where we think that, once the infection rate reaches them, the death rate may spike. So, as an institution, we diversified attention away from the focus on infection and recovery rates, to look at other issues.

Indeed, we have made other attempts to ensure that other non-traditional data sources come in very handy in trying to monitor how we combat COVID-19. And one of the other things that we have done is to use call detail records. Fortunately, prior to the onset of COVID-19, we had had a relationship with one of the private telcos, Vodafone Ghana. And funded by Hewlett Foundation and in collaboration with Flowminder, we had had a platform where we could use call detail records for public health interventions. So, at the onset of COVID-19 we decided to use the call detail records to track mobility. This was very critical as mobility had been identified as one of the factors that could drive up the infection rate, so when the president decided to close down schools, close down social gatherings, put a ban on public gatherings, and went ahead to partially lock down two of our ten regions, we decided to use the call detail records to more or less assess the effectiveness of the directive to lock down two areas, and whether the other areas that were not locked down would see some minimal infection rate. This certainly brought to the fore the use of a dataset, the use of a resource, that we had not harnessed fully prior to the onset of COVID-19.

The other thing that we have done in terms of non-traditional data sources is to see how administrative data can help us to really indicate whether there has been a shift in the mortality in the months of COVID-19. Again, this was something that we were not prepared for, but at the onset of COVID-19 we thought that to really understand or appreciate its impact on deaths it would be good to have a historical data at least 18 months prior to, and through, the COVID-19 period. This would allow us to make an indication or a position statement on whether mortality in the country has shifted during the months of COVID-19 or otherwise. So we have harnessed administrative data and big data, and put to the fore an opportunity for the public to look at how different data sources can help in combating COVID-19.

In a time of emergency like this, there is certainly an urgency to get real-time, quicker data to make decisions and to respond. From the perspective of Ghana Statistical Services, how do you assess the quality of new additional data sources, whether it be the administrative data, big data, or new non-traditional sources? And are the processes involved in decided whether they can be made available to the public different than under normal circumstances?

At the outset I must say that this is challenging area because, as you rightly said, we are in moments that require immediate response. And if you want to go through the quality assurance processes, which we all know lengthens the period of the release of data, then it becomes a challenge. Having said that, we have been very careful in the sense that as a country we had not emphasized the need to focus on statistics at an experimental level to a point that they are considered national statistics (like other colleagues in developed countries do). So in the face of COVID-19, we kept on doing sensitization work on the fact that, although we are coming up with all these different data sources to help combat COVID-19, for now we want to tag them as “experimental statistics”. Once we go through the process of validation, we will be able graduate these datasets to the point where we can call them “national statistics” or “official statistics”. So we did a lot of public sensitization around the tagging of the statistics as “experimental” or “official”, so that at least would have something to work with and help address the effect of COVID-19.

Having said that, we had two interventions that were ongoing in the area of quality assurance. One of them was to have a data quality assurance framework—and we are working with some colleagues from academia and private sector to help us put in place a framework to assure the quality of our products before they go out. Because of COVID-19 and the rush to put out a lot more data, we have accelerated work in the area of the data quality assurance framework, and in the next week we will be getting the first draft and will be engaging some stakeholders to ensure that it is ready and that all the statistics that we had to bring to the fore as a result of COVID-19 go through it, upon which we can say that they have graduated from experimental statistics to national and official statistics. The other way we are ensuring quality assurance in the face of COVID-19 has to do with deepening our collaboration with other agencies, especially other government ministries, department and agencies (MDAs), so that once any of these institutions come up with data, at least there should be a quick roundtable discussion to ensure the data meet a certain minimum standard before it goes out. So we have been using collaboration among MDAs and we've rode on our new Statistical Service Act, which empowers us to set up a national advisory committee of producers and users of statistics, and we've started engaging them virtually to ensure that all these statistics pass through them before being published, even as experimental.

That touches upon one of the other questions we wanted to focus on during today's interview, namely on how you are partnering with actors in your country to open up private and non-traditional sources of data to the public, while ensuring their quality and suitability. You mentioned inter-government collaboration to ensure quality. Are there any new partnerships with the private sector that have come up in terms of getting the right data to respond to COVID-19?

A couple of such partnerships have evolved. I'll touch on two of them. One, which I mentioned earlier on, is the partnership with Vodafone Ghana on the call detail records, with the COVID-19 accelerating that engagement. The reason why I'm bringing it to the fore is to illustrate how to manage these collaborations, especially with private sector that has a lot of other concerns beyond the release of statistics for national purposes. Our collaboration with Vodafone Ghana clearly spelled out the procedures by which datasets or a report should go out, and one such requirement was that after a report was agreed between the technical partners (that is, Flowminder and Ghana Statistical Service), it had to be certified by Vodafone Ghana and then go to the Vodafone group. While we appreciate the need for these processes to ensure that we don't put the private business at risk, we realize that the need for timeliness will require that we engage them again, and see how we can shorten some of the processes while we don't compromise on the business activities. So we had some dialogue on why we need to shorten the process, and this is moving forward with the engagement with other private organizations. Once we are drafting such agreement, a clause would enable us to come back to these processes to enable us ensure that whatever we are putting out there comes out in a timely manner to serve the purpose for which the data is being collected, while protecting these private organizations.

Other engagements with private sector have come up lately. We've not been able to go to the full length to see their realization but we are optimistic that moving forward we can do that. One of them, which I want to mention, came up quite recently as the actuarial society in Ghana approached Ghana Statistical Service to talk about how we can do more analytical work with data on mortality. At that meeting, we mentioned that this is a new data set that we seek to collect through our local economic tracker survey, which will give us an opportunity to pick administrative data from different sources to help us augment the mortality data that we get from our health facilities.

There are quite a number of death incidents that do not go through our health facilities, so we cannot rely solely on them and need to look at other outlets, such as data from the police department and data from the mortuaries. And to ensure that we augment the data that we get from our health facilities, definitely this is something that the actual society is interested in, and in the coming weeks we're going to set up the framework to ensure that we work with all the other agencies including the birth and death registry in Ghana. So, as a country, we can increase the regularity of mortality data that we have. Currently we are able to get such dataset mainly from our census, which happens every 10 years, or from the five-year data that we collect from the demographic and health survey and the multiple indicator cluster survey.

It seems like there are a lot of ongoing partnerships being strengthened, but also new partnerships that are being explored as well. We are seeing partnership and collaboration as a tool to combat COVID-19. This is not something that one sector or agency can fight on its own. Another area of opportunity is open data and ensuring the data that is produced is available and can get into the hands of users. What role can open data play in the fight against COVID-19, and how does the adoption of open data policies might facilitate the use of official statistics? What risks might be there in adopting open data policies, and how might these be mitigated?

I would want to start by saying that the opportunity to make a case for open data would be or has been unprecedented in the wake of COVID-19. Clearly, it has brought to the fore the need to come together and do a drive for open data, and if you are not doing it as a country some other international organization will be doing it for you, and even if you are not doing it as an institution within a country, some other institutions or even the private sector will go ahead with some data in anticipation that it is putting out a resource to help fight COVID-19.

So the point of open data, its relevance, has been more than emphasized in the wake of COVID-19. I think the challenge here is how to manage it and the risks that are associated with it. From my point of view, we need more sensitization and advocacy on the need for harmonization of the data that we put out there. As I indicated earlier, fighting a pandemic requires urgent use of data, which needs to be put out there. But it is good to always put a footnote indicating the experimental nature of the data, as it's not going through the rigor of validation and quality assurance. We have to engage with it with caution. We need to think about how to harmonize it, how to quickly put in place a framework through which open data would be relevant or serve a good purpose, rather than be harmful to our economy. One way of doing that is to heighten collaboration across different sectors, adhering to the tenets of quality statistics, one of which is transparency. And transparency is about the metadata that governs the data that we put out there. In most developing countries, when we talk about open data, we think about only “the spreadsheet”, but if you publish the numbers without adding the metadata which describes the limits, the scope, the challenges associated with the data, it becomes very problematic and its use can lead to a misplacement or mistargeting the right and purpose. So, it's important to think through the mechanisms to ensure that open data serves the right purpose.

The risk associated with open data is whether at the end of the day the data that is put out there through dissemination informs and is used. And there are number of instances where in different countries the use of data based on the COVID-19 cases by policy makers have been doubted, especially at a time that we are dealing with a pandemic that mutates. We have infection rates going up in some countries, we have restrictions being adhered to differently in other countries, and one begins to ask whether we are taking these decisions based on the infection rate. With the consistent increase in the infection rate one will begin to wonder why would one even think about easing down restrictions, especially when some countries are experiencing some form of multiple waves, with increases in cases and with the number of cases not reaching its peak, and death cases slowing down and spiking up again. one is beginning to think whether data or open data is being put into its right use. From my point of view the risk is more about the guidelines of the use of open data and more importantly how to guide the use of data, especially when there are other competing factors that has to be taken into that have to be taken into consideration in addition to data.

Open data is just one part of the puzzle, one part of the solution. The uptake of it is certainly another, and you mentioned in the beginning of our interview that the role of Ghana Statistical Service is adapting from one of just production to a more analytical one. From your perspective, what steps has Ghana Statistical Service taken to communicate clear messages, so that decision makers can address the outbreak effectively and efficiently? How can NSOs, more generally, improve the way that data on health resources and monitoring efforts is disseminated, so decision makers can easily find, understand and use the data?

In terms of disseminating data to ensure that the uptake of open data is done in a way that serves its purpose, the national statistical office, and in this case Ghana Statistical Service, has to be clear in terms of the role that it plays. We all know that statistical agencies are much more of data producers, but in the wake of COVID-19, as you readily said, it goes beyond data production because there are multiplicity of factors that one needs to take into consideration. At Ghana Statistical Service we made a position statement on the need to be circumspect with the open data that we have, so we made certain strong statements, for instance, indicating that if we really want to appreciate the infection rate or the death rate associated with COVID-19, we should not follow strictly the contact tracing procedure, but we should get into the population and randomly sample and see how COVID-19 is impacting on the economy as a whole; if we really want to appreciate the mortality associated with COVID-19, we should not restrict ourselves to only patients who, prior to their demise, tested positive with COVID-19.

There might be multiple factors of which COVID-19 is one cause of death, so we made quite strong statements on how to be careful and circumspect with the data that we are using or with the uptake of the open data that we have. This is the role of statistical agencies in a time like this, making very clear and definitive statements on the open data that is publicly available and the extent to which this data is being used.

We also made sure we had strong collaborations with academia. We had strong collaborations with international partners to begin to interrogate the different predictions that were being thrown about globally on how COVID-19 cases were going to spike up in different countries. And as a statistical agency we tested out the assumptions underlying these analytical models and made another strong statement that the likelihood of these assumptions failing is high, so again one has to be careful with the predictions, especially when you are using open data as a basis for decision making.

So as statistical institutions in a time like this it's your ability to make certain definitive statements from a technical broader perspective that is going to make you more relevant.

I'm also hearing that there is a need right now to trust the national statistical offices in terms of quality assurance and verifying the data, and to use a lot of sources to have a broader picture of the context and the environment to make decisions. On this point of data dissemination and use what has been the biggest challenge? You've spoken about this a bit, but to bring it out a bit more poignantly, what are the biggest challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of data dissemination and use?

In terms of data dissemination and use, the challenge was more related to the clout that you have, in this case Ghana Statistical Service, in the space of COVID-19, and how you are being engaged and whether the manner in which you pulled out data is through a direct or indirect medium. We have played a diverse role in the monitoring and fight against COVID-19 in Ghana, but I tell management that we always could have done better than what we did if we're more at a center stage in the COVID-19 engagement in the country than the roll that we played.

So, in terms of dissemination, we took a strategic decision to make ourselves more relevant, and even to use indirect means to ensure that we publish data that would help fight against COVID-19. We made sure that our website was more vibrant than before and used other social media to direct people to it, including the dashboard of hotspots in the country I mentioned. We didn't just place it there thinking that people would just go there, but shared the link through Facebook and other social media, directing people to other sources where they can find COVID-19 information.

We also did position statements and approached top government officials and said, “if you take this into consideration, it would help the country in its fight against COVID-19”. We put in more aggressive dissemination procedures to ensure that our thoughts on what we think will help address COVID-19 would play a significant role, in the last couple of weeks we are seeing the returns. Some of my colleagues are sitting on some meetings at high level of governors to inform decision making with regards to COVID-19. So certainly, moving way beyond just a production role, now it is also being a knowledge center for citizens but also this strategic advisor in some sense to other government agencies as well. This is a lot more work than normal operations, but certainly a time for the national statistics office not to prove itself–because we all understand the worth of the NSO—but to show the rest of the government and citizens the important role it does play.

What are your views on how new solutions developed in this phase of COVID-19 and a global pandemic can become the new normal? how this elevated role of the NSO can become the standard? Is there something we're learning from this crisis and the way NSOs are adapting to it that we can hold on to for future?

Quite a lot has happened in a short while in the face of COVID-19, and certainly as you rightly said NSOs have become more relevant moving forward. Before I talk about what NSOs in my view should begin to do, I think NSOs should appreciate the other side of the coin, in the sense that if you don't handle the COVID-19 situation well, NSOs will become less relevant. As I indicated, now people are beginning to question whether data is really a strong determinant in decision making. NSOs should begin to put emphasis on an aggressive approach to data production, to ensure that data remains a dominant factor in decision making. We will only be successful in doing this if we appreciate the other dominant factors, which obviously are the political, economic and “futuristic” reasons which contribute to decision making. In my view, NSOs should begin to move away from our traditional mandate and diversify in what we do, to enhance our ability to respond quickly and support other agencies to fight the pandemic. Up until the COVID-19, as an institution we had not thought about a business contingency plan. Moving forward, NSOs should have a business contingency plan; once we do that, it gives us an opportunity to estimate our new responsibilities. We would not hesitate in getting into the non-traditional sources that in instances like this come in very handy to help us put data out quickly to fight a pandemic. So one of the new solutions is our readiness to have a business contingency plan, which would give us an opportunity to do a register of all the likely incidents that would happen and datasets that would be required to fight against this pandemic.

Now we are dealing with a pandemic from only a health perspective; but there are other perspectives that might lead to global challenges. How ready would we be as national statistical agencies to produce the relevant data? I stepped in, from the onset we were approached on specific health datasets, such as number of hospital beds and so on. Assuming the challenge was from a political or a mayhem point of view, would we have been in a position to talk about the number of areas that are prone to, for instance, flooding, bushfires and things like that? These are new data needs that are coming up and we need to be very anticipatory of such responsibilities.

Thank you, Professor, for these recommendations for other national statistics offices, which are grappling with similar issues. The business continuity plan is certainly important, as well as exploring new traditional data sources, and of course the partnership and collaboration among sectors and government agencies. These elements will become even more important in 2020 because, as you mentioned, what started as a public health crisis will now become an economic and social one, and many more impacts through other areas of our life. Do you have any closing remarks on the response of NSOs to COVID-19, or a point you'd like to highlight for our audience?

I think the questions are quite exhaustive, but I'll just mention two things if you don't mind. The first has to do with the individual country responses to COVID-19, and commend the United Nations Statistics Division for putting up this initiative, which gives us an opportunity as NSOs in our respective countries to one appreciate how our context is different and to learn from what other countries are doing, depending on how, at a governmental level, NSOs in their respective countries are being engaged. This platform would always present an opportunity to share knowledge and I think it is very important that we continue to do that. But what I want to share with my other national statisticians is the importance of harnessing bilateral, three-way, four-way engagements in knowledge sharing. I think we have not had or we have not done that strongly enough; but moving forward and giving the different experiences and the challenging times that we find ourselves in, it is definitely important for us to do this in a much smaller and at a much smaller scale even if it's bilateral.

The other thing that I want to mention is that clearly this is a platform for national statistical organizations to rethink their organization as we've talked about. Thus, it's important to always keep in mind the trade-off between urgency for data and quality of data, and if we don't handle that balance very well we might lose on one of them at any point in time if not both of them.

Thank you, Professor. We are certainly glad to hear there is need for more knowledge sharing across NSOs and with UNSD we will continue to do this interview series. We have a handful of more interviews lined up for the coming weeks, and we hope to provide more of that knowledge sharing.

Thank you again for the rich insights you provided and the hopeful outlook on how NSOs are adapting, and with the right support, will continue not just to survive the COVID-19 pandemic but also to thrive.

Samuel Kobina Annim is the Government Statistician (Head) of the Ghana Statistical Service and a Professor of Economics with specific concentration on Micro Development Economics and Applied Microeconometrics. As Government Statistician for the past 18 months, Professor Annim has pursued a transformational agenda to promote professionalism in the production of statistics and to deepen the relevance of official statistics in a rapidly changing economic and social environment. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Prof. Annim has contributed significantly to decisions on interventions by government to combat the disease and address associated socioeconomic challenges, stressing the use of relevant data to achieve desired results. He passionately supports national and global development agenda by providing professional service to the National Statistical System in Ghana and several international bodies, and is dedicated to promoting knowledge transformation across the continent and beyond.

Deirdre Appel is Program Manager of Open Data Watch, where she is responsible for the planning and coordination of work program activities, business development and communications, leading policy engagements and strategic partnerships. Deirdre holds a Master of Global Policy Studies with a specialization in International Development from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.