The success of Government’s digitisation agenda depends as much on the robustness of the technology as the people implementing them, and a concerted effort must therefore be made to ensure the two go hand in hand, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has indicated.
According to the Vice President, while technology has many benefits, it also disrupts the status quo, and those who benefit from the pre-existing situation will always have an incentive to push back to ensure its failure in order to satisfy their parochial interests. Government is however determined to ensure its success, and will continue to implement policies and programmes in the ICT sector to take Ghana to the next level of her development.
The Vice President indicated Government’s determination to stay the digital course and modernise the Ghanaian economy despite the challenges when he gave the opening address at the 4th Edition of the MOBEX Africa ICT Expo in Accra on Wednesday 13th June, 2018.
“While we are on a mission to digitize Ghana, we have to be very aware that new systems will only be as good as the people who implement them. New systems disrupt the status quo and therefore one can expect push back from beneficiaries of the status quo. Our experience with the implementation of the paperless system at the ports is a case in point” Dr Bawumia pointed out.
“(But) Significant progress has been made. Data from GCNET indicates that over 40% of containers are cleared within 24 hours and about 70% of containers are cleared within 72 hours. While this an improvement, it is still not good enough for us.”
Vice President Bawumia warned operators at the ports to eschew corruption and work hand in hand with the authorities to ensure the success of the paperless port system.
“It is clear that notwithstanding the new systems that have been implemented there are concerted efforts to circumvent the paperless system both by customs officials and other government officials.
“I understand that some officials at the port are demanding documents from importers for stamping. This is ridiculous and should not happen under the new paperless regime. No official should demand from any importer documents (except the Way Bill and Bill of Lading) for stamping or any other purpose during the clearance process. All the relevant documents are online. It is only a ruse for corruption.”
In a related development, new measures designed to further streamline operations at the ports will take effect next month, following a review of the paperless system, Vice President Bawumia has announced.
“Effective 1st July, 2018 the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections at the port has been reduced from 16 to 3 (Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority and Customs). National Security or NACOB will join based on intelligence.”
He continued, “The Compliance stage of the clearance process has been abolished since it has become redundant under the new system. This function will be undertaken by the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB).
“We have established a Task Force to monitor the implementation of the paperless system at the ports on a daily basis and provide reports for action where bottlenecks arise.”