It has emerged that the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration would not have been able to achieve their digitalization success being touted by Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia had the erstwhile John Mahama administration not built a solid foundation for its acceleration.
Throwing light on the impact of the country’s digitalisation drive, Dr. Bawumia who was addressing Ghanaians at a public lecture on Tuesday, announced how new initiatives such as a platform to access drugs, among other things would be part of the government’s economic strategy to create jobs and grow the economy, saying ” because the Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us and we must be part of the modern world. ”
Dr. Bawumia mentioned that when the Akufo-Addo government took over, the country lacked a functional National Property Address System while there was “the existence of a large Informal Sector and the dominance of cash payments.”
He said the country’s databases are largely manual and not integrated hence the difficulty in collecting taxes for development and added that there was also inefficiency in the delivery of Health Services.
He stated their government had worked hard to tackle the anomalies whose fruits Ghanaians are reaping.
“In Africa, Ghana has been ahead of the curve on digitization. Our strategy since 2017, has been not just to repair the “system” but to build a new “system” through digital transformation,” Bawumia noted.
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.
“So we asked the questions: why can’t we make it possible to send mobile money across different telecom companies and also why can’t the mobile money account function like a bank account ‘by making it interoperable with bank accounts? The answer to these questions was the implementation of the ground-breaking mobile money interoperability system.”
“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.
Some of the claims of Dr. Bawumia have been questioned by some former appointees of the Mahama administration whose work at the time focused on expanding data infrastructure.
One of such persons is the former Director-General of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Dr. George Atta-Boateng.
Reacting to the address of Dr. Bawumia on Tonton Sansan on TV XYZ, Atta-Boateng 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.”
Explaining how their government embarked on projects that transformed Ghana’s digital space, Atta-Boateng said 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 and
objectives, 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.
An earlier statement jointly signed by former Communications Minister Edward Omane Boamah and Atta-Boateng furthermore, that “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.