The COVID-19 pandemic struck the world in 2019, bringing in its wake one of the biggest disruptions to lives and businesses since World War II. But, as lockdowns became the new normal, businesses and consumers increasingly found new and innovative means to reach out to their customers.
Their motive was simple: survival; for which reason many went digital, providing and purchasing more goods and services online, raising e-commerce’s share of global retail trade from 14 per cent in the year the pandemic struck to about 17 per cent in 2020, according to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report.
The phenomenon has become what is now being described as the ‘new normal’.
Today, more companies in the private sector and even the public sector, led by the government, are providing E-services as part of measures to enhance the ease of doing business. Besides, E-services have also enlightened many to adopt a new mode of life that builds confidence, helps mitigate corruption and ensures convenience.
At the Graphic Business-Stanbic Breakfast Meeting last Tuesday, a thought-leadership event meant to set the stage for deeper discourse on important national issues, private sector players and the public said they had embraced the contribution of E-services to their daily activities.
They also said services online had helped to do away with the cumbersome processes they had to go through to access services offered by government agencies and ministries.
However, they said, to ensure that E-services became more acceptable, there was the need to ensure reliable data access at an affordable price, while Internet connectivity was upgraded to meet the demand load.
They also cautioned against any moves to discourage its use in the country.
On the theme: “Integration of E-Service into our economy — Implications for economic growth and quality of life”, the meeting was expected to deliver a clear and unambiguous platform for professionals to enlighten the public on the implications and benefits of E-services.
It is good to note that our sister brand, Graphic Business, has set the stage for this all important topic because we trust, in all honesty, that the country stands to benefit from its advantages, while working on the negative sides to reduce the impact on those who use that platform.
The discussion focused on: Creative Revenue Generation Opportunities of E-Service Solutions to Economic Growth; Unpacking E-Service Solutions and Contribution to Quality of Service and Impact of E-Service on Economic Growth and Business.
That allowed the panellists and the audience to properly digest the theme from all angles to make for better appreciation by all and sundry.
In all this, we think there is the need for us to address our minds to the simple fact that while businesses migrate their services online, the tendency to avoid the payment of taxes, whether advertently or inadvertently, becomes real.
This is what, as citizens, we must avoid if we want governments to rake in more revenue domestically, so that we can reduce our dependence on loans raised internationally.
We are happy to note that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has taken its services online and some traders are acknowledging that and paying their taxes seamlessly.
This is what we all have to embrace as a country because we stand to gain as a people if we make the delivery of services online a major part of our lives.
We have no doubt that the Graphic Business and the Stanbic Bank believe in this new normal, hence the theme. We trust that after the event, more people will value E-services and make them a normal part of their lives.