Former Director-General of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Dr. George Atta-Boateng, has challenged Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia to prove that most of the Government to Citizens initiatives also known as E-Services his outfit is touting as achievements in the digital space of the country were initiated by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.
Speaking on Tonton Sansan on TV XYZ, Atta-Boateng indicated that some of the E-services citizens employ in doing business with the government which the NPP government is taking credit for were platforms the NDC put in place before leaving office.
His comment comes on the back of Dr Bawumia’s public lecture on Tuesday at the Ashesi University that was themed, ‘Transforming an Economy through Digitalisation: the Ghana Story’.
Announcing how new initiatives such as a platform to access drugs and other essential services would help boost the economy and reduce corruption, Dr Bawumia credited the Akufo-Addo government for a huge investment in digitizing the economy.
For instance, he hailed the government for a property address system, mobile money interoperability among others amid subtle jibes at the erstwhile NDC government.
Highlighting the work the government had done to improve financial inclusion, Dr. Bawumia stated, it was not possible to send money to customers of different telecom companies.
“Thanks to the Bank of Ghana and Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlement System (GhIPSS) the mobile money payments interoperability has made it possible to transfer money seamlessly across different mobile money providers and between bank accounts and mobile wallets,” he added.
But Atta-Boateng who, together with former Communications Minister Dr Edward Omane Boamah, has chronicled most of the projects the John Mahama administration embarked on towards digitizing the economy, wondered if the NPP government could be boasting about digitizing the economy if the previous government had not laaid the foundation for that before leaving office.
For instance, Atta-Boateng noted that the NDC government began the interoperability platform before leaving office.
In the statement, the duo stated, “the E-services platform www.eservices.gov.gh, which has since been integrated
into www.epay.gov.gh platform provides a one-stop shop for all citizens regardless of location to apply for basic services online without having to join long queues and ransack Government agencies for them.”
According to the records they have, 23,333 total transactions had been made as of October 2016, and an amount of GHC168, 973,528.54 had been collected for eight MMDAs hence the announcement from Dr. Bawumia could not be the truth.
Currently, the platforms– www.eservices.gov.gh and www.epay.gov.gh– have been combined into one website where all e-services can now be accessed from www.epay.gov.gh.
On Tonton Sansan on TV XYZ, Atta-Boateng further rubbished claims that the NPP government birthed the digitization drive as being touted by the Vice President.
“John Mahama’s administration laid a solid foundation for the digitization drive of this country,” he told host Prince Kwame Minkah. “Digitalization hinges on two things: digital infrastructure and digital services.”
He also observed that since digital Infrastructure is the foundation of every digital economy, the Mahama administration built the most robust and efficient infrastructure in the country to meet the digital transformational goals, including the Rural Fibre Network from Accra to Bawku.
“We built about 1000km of this fibre network which we call the Eastern Corridor Fibre Network from Ho to Bawku and later linked it to Accra. Today some areas in Burkina Faso are benefitting from that investment we made,” he stated in Akan and asked whether the government could have boasted of the smooth take-off of some e-platforms Dr Bawumia touted.
The Eastern Corridor Fibre Network, he stated, connects six regions in the country; namely: Greater Accra, Volta, Oti, Northern, North East and Upper East regions and added that the project provides internet and voice call needs of millions of Ghanaians and thousands of businesses along that route.
“At no additional cost to the State, this fibre network was also extended to the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) to facilitate research, teaching and learning.”
Atta Boateng also stated the Mahama administration also rolled out an LTE/4G network with over 119 base stations across the length and breadth of Ghana, to provide internet services and network backbone support to all Government agencies (Ministries, Departments, Districts, etc.)
“Today, if Dr Bawumia is touting platforms where people can access services electronically, he should be grateful to former president John Mahama for laying the foundation,” Atta-Boateng insisted.
He also mentioned the building of a Tier-3 600-Rackspace Data Centre in Accra to ensure data storage (documents, videos, audios,biometric, etc.), web hosting and also serve the cyber security needs of the country.
“This data centre our government built is the biggest in West Africa and it is located right here in Accra, with a
45 Rackspace back-up on the campus of KNUST, Kumasi,” he added.
To him, all these plus the establishment of ICT centres in some parts of the country is the genesis of the backbone of Ghana’s data drive which was initiated by the erstwhile NDC government.