Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister for communications says the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will create the opportunity to provide technology solutions to enterprises and individuals to boost entrepreneurial drive on the continent.
She said digital solutions designed by Africa and used by Africa, were the major way to facilitate Africa’s quest to become a single digital market, enabling the continent to reap the benefits in cross-border trade and payment systems.
This will also enable Africa to achieve an integrated citizen digital identification goal to enable each country to deliver equitable social services to people across socio-economic boundaries.
The Minister said this in a speech read on her behalf by Madam Ama Pomaa Boateng, Deputy Minister of Communications at the Africa Digital Forum.
The Forum, dubbed: “The Digital Challenge, Africa’s Opportunity under AfCFTA”, was organised by Africa Integrated Development Communications Consultancy (AIDEC).
The Minister said Africa has the opportunity to harness digital technologies to power the Continent’s socio-economic development.
Ghana, she said, had already begun the process to secure its digital journey and that several initiatives had been implemented over the past years.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said her Ministry was championing the government’s Digital Agenda, which had been prioritized in five thematic areas to enable the Ministry to track progress in the next four years.
This included Digital infrastructure and connectivity, digital skills, research and innovation, digitalisation of postal and courier services, data protection, privacy and trust for digital networks and services, legal, regulatory, and policy framework.
With over 15.5 million people enrolled on the biometric National ID card (Ghana Card) system, the National Identification Authority, she said, was working with various agencies to integrate the identity records of the citizenry via the “Ghana Card” scheme.
Also, the process of integrating the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the Ghana Card was on course, and the National ID Card database was also being synchronised with that of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the Government had introduced the digital services and payments platform, Ghana.gov, for payments to public sector organisations, and as a single point of access for all services of Ministries, Departments, and Government Agencies.
“This platform will facilitate cargo clearing at the ports and allow stakeholders to validate invoices, calculate port charges and facilitate secure transactions through mobile money and other payment systems,” she said.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) under the Ghana Investment Climate Advisory Programme is supporting the effort in modifying software systems aimed at reforming businesses and company registration in Ghana.
Professor Alex Dodoo, Director-General of the Ghana Standard Authority, speaking on the topic,“E-commerce, Border Trade Protocols and Standardisation under AfCFTA” said e-commerce with the AfCFTA had to be governed by standards, and that there was the need for the development and implementation of the technical regulations of such standards.
He said the governments within the AfCFTA should standardise e-commerce to ensure that member states do not feel short-changed when trading among themselves.
They must be conscious in the deliberations to standardize the trading in the continent because that would help make the locally produced materials more competitive with products from other continents.
Prof. Dodoo indicated that the International Standard Organisation Technical Committee is working on a draft document on transaction insurance in e-commerce to help protect online consumers.
He urged the government to join in such efforts to help enhance the country’s e-commerce industry.
Mr Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah, the Chief Executive Officer of Accra Metropolitan Assembly said the Assembly was poised to use available tools to provide smart services to the residents of Accra.
He said the Assembly would leverage on the city’s slum and innovation centers to attract investments into the city to enhance Ghana’s status as the financial and commercial heartbeat of Africa.
The Mayor said his outfit was working with the Ghana Tourism Authority to build a robust digital system for promoting the Ghanaian Cultural system and Accra’s tourism potential.
He added that the Assembly would also leverage the National ID card and the National Property Addressing system for the issuance of permits, licenses, business integration among others.