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Ghana Is Leading Africa In Transforming Its Economy Through Digitisation

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

As an economist, I know all too well that in today’s modern, globalised, and interconnected world, those who fail to adapt to economic developments will be left behind. Coming out of a global pandemic which halted economic growth across the world, we cannot let this happen for Ghana. After all, we were the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2019.

Our country’s digitisation drive will enable us to once more reach the heights we saw before the pandemic, as we continue to set the pace in Africa with our modernisation agenda. It is imperative that we therefore continue with the rapid rollout of the Ghana Card (our national ID card), the beating heart of our programme.

I have frequently outlined the many benefits of the Ghana Card and how it democratises access to essential documentation and government services, ensuring that no Ghanaian is left behind no matter where they are. Digital inclusion is essential in our technology-driven world, and it is simply wrong that citizens are without passports or are the victims of malicious fraud.

When we came into office five years ago, only 4% of our total adult population had a Tax Identification Number (TIN). This is why we made the decision early-on to make unique Ghana Card numbers the TIN for all holders. If you have a Ghana Card, you also now have a unique TIN, meaning that over 85% of our adult population now has this.

Leading international bodies like the World Bank and World Economic Forum have time and time again illustrated the clear link between digitisation and improved government accountability, economic growth, and the reduction of criminal activity. For example, the World Bank in a 2020 report highlighted an increase in GDP per capita of 0.75% for just a 10% increase in a country’s digitisation score.

Wanting to see this in the flesh, I visited our National Service Secretariat (NSS) head office in Accra at the beginning of this month. Here I was informed by NSS staff members that the infusion of digital technology in their operations has saved our Ghana at least Ghs112m and blocked payments to over 14,000 separate people identified as having fraudulent requests.

This technological revolution is enabling us to be a true pacesetter on the continent where other countries from across the world are looking to our ongoing success story. This administration wants nothing more than for Ghanaians to thrive and live in an environment where their incredible skillsets, passion, and potential are able to thrive.

With this in mind, I know that our citizens expect us to continue in our efforts to build a thriving, modernised, and diverse economy especially after the stagnation seen with COVID-19. This is what we are doing. Of course, we know that no rollout of such scale is without its problems, and I ensure you that we are working our utmost hardest to resolve any minor issues – We hear you.

The National Identification Authority (NIA) is continuing to open more offices so that everyone is able to register for their Ghana Card in good time. It is our hope that the rollout is complete in the coming months

So far, over 85% of the adult population have registered for a Ghana Card, and we are now expanding invitations for the card to all eligible Ghanaians living abroad as well as to the younger generation. We have also solved the problem of property addresses by the implementation of a national digital property address system based on GPS technology. There is no property or location in Ghana without a digital address. Furthermore the implementation of our landmark mobile money interoperability between mobile money accounts and bank accounts has practically provided over 90% of all adult Ghanaians with a bank account and this has resolved the problem of financial inclusion. All government services have being put on one portal, Ghana.Gov to make public services accessible to the population. Ghana is also the world’s largest medical drone service which has made the delivery of medicines, vaccines and blood supplies by drones to remote areas possible across the country.  We are aralsoe digitizing healthcare records, Launched a national e-pharmacy platform and provided 90% of senior high high schools with free wifi.

Exciting new developments continue to manifest in our country, and I am delighted that new initiatives like the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) are set to benefit so many people both across Africa and within Ghana. PAPSS will ensure that those sending money across borders no longer incur meaningless delays and in some cases additional payments originating in foreign countries halfway across the world.

Prior to PAPSS, over 80% of African cross-border payment transactions originating from African banks had to be routed offshore for clearing purposes. This system will now save more than $5bn annually and also time for those sending money.

As digitisation brings about changes like the above, I am excited to see just what else we can introduce to benefit our people. Further developments like the activation of the e-passport feature of the Ghana Card are coming, and we are firmly on-course to meet the targets I outlined in November last year, notably that this would be activated by the end of the first quarter this year.

We have previously worked hard to break down barriers to trade, with the introduction of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) being one of the continent’s greatest economic achievements of all time. Like with the elimination of trade barriers, we must continue in our pursuit of the removal of barriers to technology.

We recognise and are seeing the benefits of digitisation every day. This is precisely why the administration of H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo continues to pursue what is best for all  Ghanaians. Always driving forwards, we urge people to join us on this exciting, prosperous journey.

Source: Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana

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