The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has called for concerted efforts to ensure the success of the government’s digitisation agenda, pointing out that its success will depend on the robustness of the technology as much as the people implementing it.
He said while technology had many benefits, it also disrupted the status quo, such that those who benefitted from the pre-existing situation would always have an incentive to push back to ensure its failure in order to satisfy their parochial interests.
Dr Bawumia made the call at the fourth edition of the MOBEX Africa ICT Expo in Accra last Wednesday.
“While we are on a mission to digitise 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 a 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,” he said.
He said the government would continue to implement policies and programmes in the ICT sector and was determined to ensure their success as a means of taking Ghana to the next level of its development.
The Vice-President said significant progress had been made at the ports and that data from GCNET indicated that over 40 per cent of containers were cleared within 24 hours and about 70 per cent in 72 hours.
He said while that was an improvement, it was still not good enough and ought to be improved upon.
He warned operators at the country’s ports to eschew corruption and work hand in hand with the port authorities to ensure that the paperless port system was a success.
“It is clear that notwithstanding the new systems that have been established, there are still efforts to circumvent the paperless system by both Customs and government officials.
“I understand that some officials at the ports still demand documents from importers for stamping. This is ridiculous and should not happen under the new paperless regime. No official should demand documents from any importer (except way bill and bill of laden) for stamping or any other purpose during the clearance process. All the relevant documents are online. It is only a ruse for corruption,” he noted.
Dr Bawumia also announced that following a review of the paperless system, new measures designed to further streamline operations at the ports would take effect next month.
“Effective July 1, this year, the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections at the ports will reduce from 16 to three — the Ghana Standards Authority, the Food and Drugs Authority and the Customs Division of the GRA. The National Security or NACOB will only join based on intelligence,” he said.
He further announced that the compliance stage of the clearance process had been abolished, since it had become redundant under the new system, saying that function would 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,” he added.