On the 4th of August 2022, Ghana celebrated founders’ day, one that sought to highlight its illustrious founding fathers. The eminent personalities that helped in the struggle to gain independence for our country deserve to be remembered, not only for the current dispensation but also for future generations. It is therefore fit and proper for eminent persons who chalk success for the progress of our country to be celebrated--especially individuals who against all odds achieve for the country's generational benefits.
Ghana is thriving, even in the face of adversity. The shining light of the black star continues to illuminate the continent. It was therefore not surprising that during the pandemic, Ghana became an example not to only Africa, but to the world on how it managed the turbulent Covid-19. Probably not appreciated enough, but the government led by the President and his able Vice Dr Bawumia did a marvellous job navigating through such uncharted waters.
Ghana continues to be an example to Africa and the world in the area of democracy, probably the most enduring democracy on the continent. This by no means is a feat that should be underrated.
Democracy has afforded us the opportunity to decide for ourselves in choosing our political leaders through voting—we all decide on who oversees the resources our country is blessed with. I don’t intend to bore you with them but just to mention a few: Ghana has gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese. Cocoa, timber, and the new ‘kid’ oil add up to the richness of resources we continue to enjoy. The former British colony got her former name - Gold Coast due to the abundance of the precious ore on the shores- now Ghana.
Ghana can boast of six vice presidents as stipulated by article 60 of the 1992 constitution since its inception. Kow Nkensen Arkaah (1993-1997), John Atta- Mills (1997-2001), Aliu Mahama (2001-2009), John D. Mahama (2009-2012), Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur (2012-2017) and Mahamudu Bawumia (2017 to present).
While article 60 of the constitution clearly specifies the roles and functions of Vice Presidents, there have seen some defining moments of the Vice Presidents we have had under the fourth republic.
For what has been embraced in Ghana as digitalization, Dr Bawumia, the distinguished vice president is worth celebrating. He has championed to success an agenda that has generational benefits. Interestingly, the sixth Vice President has added a redefining touch to the office that deserves credit and applause.
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia first became the vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 election when he was introduced into politics as a novice. Before his involvement into politics, he was the deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana. He had to wait until 2016 to be called His Excellency though. As stated earlier, he came as a novice but now leading a very vital phase in Ghana's digital space.
Aside from playing his roles defined by the constitution, he has been perhaps the most active and purposeful Vice President to have graced the political scene.
It is not surprising that President Akufo-Addo stuck with Dr. Bawumia as his running mate from 2008 through 2016 when they finally gained power. He has not only been just supportive, but he has also been loyal, hardworking, and fruitful and has delivered to the country what has not be achieved in its 65 years as a nation.
Dr. Bawumia is not only ushering Ghana into the digital world, he is doing so in leaps and bounds. His sense of can-do spirit and confidence in the Ghanaian is worth emulating. It is astounding the achievement the country has gained in the digital space in this short time with him as Vice President. What was thought to be achievable in decades and with billions, he has achieved it in few years and at a cost that can be classified as efficient and effective?
At the last update, the National Identification Authority (NIA) had registered about 17 million Ghanaians onto the Ghana Card. The card that is going to serve as the most significant document for every Ghanaian is not only going to be beneficial in financial transactions but also going to be the only source document for identification. This is going to help immensely in the area of identity theft, and fraud among others. This is an initiative that was championed by the Vice President, and he has achieved it with an enviable speed. He has been a Vice President who is particular about results, serving the needs of the people, and finding solutions for today and future generations.
His handy work can be felt at the ports. The introduction of paperless ports is not only facilitating trade, it has helped increase revenue at the port, bringing transparency and efficiency. The Port Paperless System initiated in 2017 has led to a drastic reduction in clearing goods and turn-around times at Ghana ports.
The Vice President has had a touch at the passport office. His drive to digitalize the passport office is yielding impressive results. The application process for the issuance of a passport has moved online, making it difficult for ‘goro boys’ to exploit unsuspecting Ghanaians. As result, one can apply for a Ghanaian passport at the comfort of your home without having to go through ‘goro’ boys as it used to be the norm some years past.
The ‘digitalization touch of Bawumia’ has been felt across various sectors of the Ghanaian economy including the introduction of Zipline Technology, a medical drone scheme which is helping in healthcare delivery, especially to the hard-to-reach communities of Ghana. Currently, with offices in Northeast, Ashanti, Greater Accra and Eastern Regions, it is believed to be a game changer in the health sector in the delivery of vital medicines among others.
Also, citizens can now renew their national health insurance cards with comfort and ease which hitherto was a battle of long queues and sleepless nights. With the short code *929# on the phone, even with the analogue phone, one can avoid the stress of joining queues to renew their insurance.
The use of technology championed by Dr. Bawumia has had a similar impact at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). It has helped eliminate to some extent the presence of ‘goro boys’ which used to be a major problem for DVLA.
Another vital initiative in his digitalization drive is the much-talked Digital Property Addressing System. This provides specific addresses to properties throughout the country. It is believed that this will help address many challenges in the business environment and also resolve land and property disputes in the country.
With the Ghanaian economy being largely informal, the introduction of the Mobile Payments Interoperability platform has created the opportunity to move money to different networks with ease in the quest for a cashless payment economy, which was a headache for many.
The digitalization agenda is already bearing fruits and as such needs to be highlighted. For so long, the attention of the country has been on physical infrastructure, leaving behind one of the most critical aspects that has the capabilities of propelling economic growth. This is what Dr. Bawumia is excellently achieving for the country.
The digitalization vision of Dr. Bawumia has saved Ghana some ¢400 million which would have been lost to ghost names on the SSNIT and National Service alone. This is surely an agenda worth pursuing and the man behind it is worth supporting to achieve more for the country.
Dr. Bawumia was considered an inexperienced politician, but he has grown in the role and has become a thorn in the flesh of the NDC.
He is seen as a calm figure within the party and has grown into the role as Vice President. It is true that the economy so far has not met the expectation of some Ghanaians, but even post COVID-19 and at the time of the Ukraine-Russia war, the economic figures have improved. But for the global pandemic and the recent Russia-Ukraine war which has brought the world economy to its knees, Ghana was growing above most of its peers which were commendable considering where the erstwhile administration left it.
As the Head of the Economic Management Team (EMT) until the global crisis, his leadership led to a transformation in the economic indicators such as interest rate, inflation rate and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures which define the health of any economy. The interest rate declined from 25.50% in 2016 to 16.00% in 2019. Inflation, which is the overall increase in prices of goods and services declined from 17.5% in 2016 to 7.9 in December 2019. GDP saw a sturdy expansion in the last three years, growing from 42.8 billion to 65.5 billion in 2018. With these achievements in mind, it is only fair to believe in the current managers of the economy. They have the abilities and capabilities to bring to life the economy as they did to the then comatose economy that was left by the NDC-led administration.
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has spearheaded a positive agenda that will forever impact Ghana-the Digitalization Agenda. These projects embarked on seek to formalize the Ghanaian economy and bring about inclusion since the Ghanaian economy is largely informal.
Dr. Bawumia has led the vice-presidential office with honour, selflessness and dignity. He has not only been the face of the government in the last 6years, but he has also been hands-on, active and participating.
While he has been at the receiving end of the blots thrown at the government, he has remained focused on his mandate, delivering for the good people of Ghana. Such a man is worth celebrating and he deserves the encouragement to do more.
Technology, and digitalization is the way to go. It cannot be left in the dark as our world continues to trend on the way of delivering efficiently and effectively, making life better.
Let’s embrace digitalization, perfect our systems and make life easier for all.
Source: Kennedy Opoku who is a Ghanaian Journalist and the Deputy Editor of TheGhanaianVoice.Com. Kennedy holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies (Journalism major) from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.
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