The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, yesterday launched an integrated ICT system for the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) at a ceremony at the Jubilee House.
The platform, which will automate all the operations of MASLOC, is a collaboration between the centre and the ARP Apex Bank and was designed by Eban Capital, a software provider.
It has an end-to-end process of credit management, loan application, credit assessment, disbursement of loan, loan repayment and monitoring and reporting, all to make loans assessable.
To apply for a facility at MASLOC, an applicant needs a business name, a TIN, a digital address, a passport picture and a valid identity card. Then that person will be given a MASLOC card which can be used on all ATMs in the country to withdraw cash.
Giving further details about the operations of the ICT infrastructure, Dr Bawumia said it was an information technology solution that would address the payment and settlement challenges of the centre and bring efficiency into its operations.
He commended the board and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MASLOC for the move, adding that it tied in with the President’s vision to digitise government’s operations.
He said before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government had embarked on an aggressive digitisation programme, noting that the pandemic had reaffirmed the President’s position that building a digital economy was the way to go.
"The COVID-19 has been destructive in many ways, but destructive events can catalyse change for the better,” he stated.
He said business would not be as usual after the crisis, and that there would be increased reliance and confidence in technology, with online payment systems radicalised, leaving institutions with no option but to subscribe to digital service delivery.
Ghana on course
Dr Bawumia said Ghana was on course as far as digitisation was concerned, and that the architecture the country was putting in place was preparing itself very well for the post-COVID-19 global economy.
He said MASLOC was poised to effectively deliver on its objective by providing funds for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially un-banked customers who formed a greater percentage of the informal sector of the economy, and also position it for the next world order of service delivery.
That, he added, would also help enhance the government’s efforts at formalising the informal sector of the economy.
The Vice-President commended MASLOC’s partnership with the ARP Apex Bank because many SMEs were very much in the informal sector and still un-banked.
He indicated that the launch marked a major transformation of MASLOC because there would be accounting for every individual who would access a MASLOC loan and enhance transparency and accountability through digitisation.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said the pandemic had revealed the vulnerability in the country.
That was evidenced by the fact that about 23 per cent of the population earned below $400 a year, and that it was clear that 90 per cent of the population in the informal sector really suffered under the lockdown.
He said the pandemic had also brought to the fore the issue of lack of capital, cost of capital and the distribution of capital.
He said it was for a good reason that the Vice-President had been championing digitisation, because research had indicated that Africa’s GDP could increase by $300 billion by 2025 if the continent digitised.
The CEO of MASLOC, Mr Stephen Amoah, said the centre had disbursed about GH¢115.6 million to 97,197 beneficiaries from 2017 to date, with 83 per cent of the beneficiaries being females.
The figure was against the GH¢74 million that was disbursed between 2009 and 2016.
“MASLOC has created about 575 new jobs, including 523 from the Nation Builders Corps who are managing over 200 newly created districts in this regime. Statutory committees, such as Audit and Entity Tender, have been established. An Internal Audit Department has also been instituted,” he added.