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Migration to digital economy still on course — VEEP

By: Suad Yakubu
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has said the government remains committed to leveraging on technology to achieve a digital economy.
He noted that in spite of the overriding factors of a largely informal Ghanaian society, the pursuit of digitisation in the various sectors was very important for national development.

“With digitisation, we are introducing new and more efficient ways of doing things. The Ghanaian society and micro and small businesses continue to be largely informal. In such an environment, access to services and the delivery of public services to those who need them most (the elderly, the vulnerable, the deprived and even pensioners) become difficult, and in many instances, depends on whom you know.

“For the banking sector, lending rates are high partly because of the high information problems in establishing identity, and in verifying ownership of property. These must change if we are aspiring to become a modern middle-income country,” he said.

Dr Bawumia made this known at the maiden town hall meeting of the Economic Management Team (EMT) on April 3 in Accra.

Strides made so far
According to the Vice-President, within his tenure of office, the government had employed digital technology, albeit its challenges, to ensure the quality of life of citizens.

Touting some successes chalked up so far, he cited the introduction of National ID Cards, Digital Address System, mobile money payments interoperability, online passport application and digital driver’s licence.

“The introduction of National ID Cards is a game-changer despite its teething challenges. On Digital Property Addressing, the process of tagging all four million houses with digital addresses is ongoing.

“Digital Driver’s license and vehicle registration have been working. Mobile money payments interoperability has been implemented. Passport applications are now online,” he said.

He also said currently, the renewal of NHIS registration had been made easier using the USSD short code option and mobile money for payments.
“Renewal of NHIS registration via mobile phone has been a phenomenal innovation with an average of 70,000 renewals every week. Simply dial star 929 hash (*929#) on any mobile phone network,” he added.   

 He also mentioned that the online ticketing had been introduced and currently being piloted by the management of the State Transport Corporation (STC) to ensure flexibility in booking and paying public transport fares.

“The management of State Transport has introduced online ticketing for State Transport Corporation buses where you can book and pay for your ticket using the mobile phone. This is currently being piloted,” Dr Bawumia said.

He also stated that the Ghana Police Service had received 1,000 surveillance cameras to fight crime and protect property.

The deployment of the 1,000 cameras across the country marks the first phase of the digitisation of police information systems.  

In the second phase of the programme, Dr Bawumia said an additional 8,000 cameras would be deployed to intensify protection against crime and property.

Over 500 start-up business to benefit from Oracle technology
In a related development, more than 500 entrepreneurs will have access to Oracle cloud technology, courtesy a collaboration between the Government of Ghana and Oracle Corporation, a technology and software development company.

The collaboration is aimed at ensuring steady growth of start-ups by building a thriving global start-up community to drive cloud-based innovation for start-ups and consumers using Oracle’s technology.

In view of this, Dr Bawumia launched the Ghana-Oracle Digital Enterprise Programme (GODEP) on April 4.

The GODEP is the first-ever collaboration initiative between the Government of Ghana (GoG) and Oracle Corporation. It is also the first in Africa.
He reiterated the government’s resolve towards creating an enabling environment for the achievement of a digital economy.

“Ghana looks forward. We are the gateway to Africa, the ever-shining Black Star – with a forward-looking mindset. We only expect new glorious breakthroughs because at present we are ready to apply new remedies with digitisation and technology innovation,” Dr Bawumia said.

Dr Bawumia, therefore, urged technology geeks and entrepreneurs to utilise the opportunity given them to improve themselves, their businesses and by extension the country.

Oracle Start-up
The Oracle Global Start-up Ecosystem is a start-up acceleration programme for entrepreneurs and innovators across the globe set up by Oracle Corporation.

The start-up programme provides enabling next generation growth, business development and driving cloud-based innovation for start-ups and customers.