Evidence Spotlight – Development Planning in Ghana


As part of VakaYiko’s recent event in Accra, GINKS hosted a National Stakeholder Forum on Evidence-Informed Policy Making (EIPM) in Ghana. Dr Isaac Mensa-Bonsu, the Director of Plan Coordination from Ghana’s National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) outlined four major national-level systems in Ghana that require evidence and described the role of the NDPC in each of these.

Throughout his presentation, Dr Mensa-Bonsu made reference to a wide range of types of evidence used by the NDPC in policymaking, from citizen consultations to administrative data, censuses and surveys conducted by GSS, as well as research reports published by think tanks, research institutions, and academia.

  1. Planning

Ghana has for some years been preparing and implementing 4-year medium-term development frameworks, the current one being the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (2014-20170 9GSGDA-II). However, the country is in the process of preparing a 40-year Long-term National Development Plan (2018-2057), which will be implemented through ten 4-year medium-term plans. A Constitution Review Commission in Ghana has recently recommended that the Plan be made binding in nature for all future governments.

Recent consultations undertaken as part of the preparation for the Long Term National Development Plan are illustrative of the broad range of stakeholders involved in development planning in Ghana, including traditional rulers, faith-based organizations, the private sector, universities, youth groups and political parties. The production, implementation, and reporting of national development plans is led by the NDPC, with involvement from the district, regional and national level.

NDPC issues planning guidelines for plan preparation by districts and sectors.  The entire process requires evidence gathering and analysis as basis for development decision making. The planning guidelines issued by NDPC, for instance, require an assessment of the current state of development of the district or the sector, which requires evidence gathering from individuals, groups, institutions as well as from the environment.

  1. Budget Preparation

Guidelines for budget preparation by public sector institutions are issued by the Ministry of Finance. Ghana’s medium-term development agenda published by NDPC provides the framework for budget preparation.

The first stage in budget preparation is the Policy Hearings, co-managed by NDPC and Ministry of Finance, to ensure that the policies of Ministries (basis for their expenditure) are linked to the national development agenda.

The second stage is the Technical Hearings. This requires that Ministries present their budget proposals using the programme-based budgeting framework (PBB).  The presentation requires evidence of policy output and policy outcome from the previous budget allocation and expenditure. The PBB also requires establishing output and outcome indicators, evidence of past performance, baseline situation and target for ensuing budget years.

  1. M&E

Districts and Ministries prepare annual progress reports on the implementation of their plans, including evidence of progress made towards outputs, outcomes and impact, using guidelines provided by NDPC. These reports are submitted to NDPC, which prepares and publishes the national Annual Progress Report (APR).  A copy of the APR is submitted to the appropriate committee of Parliament which often invites Ministries for further discussions based on the evidence contained in the APR.

NDPC also does evidence gathering and analysis to evaluate selected government policies and pilot programmes. One such policy which was recently evaluated by NDPC is the Capitation Grant in the educational sector.

  1. Reporting

The NDPC is involved in two main types of reporting.

The first is the President’s report to Parliament via the State of the Nation Address, which requires evidence gathering and analysis. This is often done by the appropriate unit of the Office of the President, with the support of NDPC.

The second type of reporting is international. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Ghana will have to report on evidence of progress in the achievement of the 17 goals using the 169 indicators stipulated. While the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has been collecting evidence for some of the indicators, for others the evidence exists but has not been collected regularly, and for some there is the need to develop capacity to gather and analyze the evidence.  NDPC and GSS will collaborate on how to build the necessary capacity to meet the reporting requirements of the SDGs.

EIPM in Ghana: Looking Forward

Dr Mensa-Bonsu stressed the increasing importance of ICT in gathering and processing evidence for decision-making—for example, he sees great potential in using drones for a more effective and efficient evidence gathering on environmental and spatial phenomena, based on NDPC’s recent experience using them for evidence gathering in connection with the Long Term Development Plan.

“We need to enhance and promote evidence-informed policy making in the country for enhanced national development decision-making and good governance, particularly ensuring transparency and accountability”, he said.

“This will require strengthening the national statistics system, including promoting record keeping culture in both state and non-state institutions for readily available administrative data. The use of ICT and other emerging technologies should also be promoted for accurate, timely and effective evidence gathering and processing for decision making.”

This post is co-authored by Emily Hayter (INASP) with Kirchuffs Atengble (GINKS) and Dr Isaac Mensa-Bonsu (Ghana National Development Planning Commission)

Emily Hayter
Emily Hayter is Senior Programme Specialist, Evidence for Policy at INASP.

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