Vice President Dr. Mahammudu Bawumia has disclosed that Google has agreed to integrate Ghana’s digital address system into Google Maps to enable people easily find locations in Ghana using digital address on Google Maps.
He was speaking on Digital Economy in one of his Bawumia Speaks Lecture Series at the Ashesi University.
At the inception of Ghana’s digital address system, developed by local tech company, Vokacom, there was a lot of buzz around the app (Ghana Post GPS), on which Ghanaians could obtain digital addresses. But over time, the interest is down and lots of Ghanaians keep using Google Maps to find locations more than they use the Ghana Post GPS.
But the Vice President noted that the digital address system leveraged on the GPS (global positioning system) to capture 7.5 million properties across the country and assigned street names, house numbers and digital addresses, which are currently being affixed to the respective locations.
“We then engaged Google last year to integrate Ghana’s digital address system into Google Maps – they did their due diligence and now they have agreed to do the integration so we will soon be doing so to make it easier for people to move around using the Ghana digital address system,” he said.
He said this is good news for Ghana because prior to the digital address system, the country’s address system was entirely landmark-based, which was not efficient because if a particular landmark is removed or compromised, it then becomes difficult to depend on it for direction.
The Vice President is confident that once the digital address system is integrated into Google Maps, it would become the tool of choice for people looking for directions in Ghana.
Further to the digital address system, the Vice President said government has made the property tax system even more efficient through digitalization.
According to him, they noticed that many property owners do not pay property taxes (rates) and many do not even receive bills to pay taxes. As a result, as of 2017, taxes were paid on only 9 per cent of properties in Ghana, and even with that, the people who collected the taxes also pocketed the money.
“This is because we lacked the key element to implement and monitor an effective property tax regime which requires that we are able to identify all properties, assess the value of all properties, identify and maintain a property owners database, send property tax bills to the owners and enforce the payment of taxes,” he observed.
He said through the implementation of the digital address system, national ID system, Ghana.gov platform and mobile money interoperability, with support from the ministries of local government, lands and natural resources, finance and the lands commission, “we have finally developed a National Common Platform for Property Tax Administration for Ghana.”
Dr. Bawumia said the platform will operate in all MMDAs across the country and it would ensure that home owners will receive their property tax bills, make payments and receive their receipts all on their mobile phones.
“The platform is ready and it is expected to be implemented by the Ministry of Local Government in 2022,” he said.
He said this is a clear example of how digitalization has helped to broaden the tax net in Ghana, something which has eluded the country since independence.
According to him, government is also on schedule to fully digitalized the operations of the lands commission to make it easier to acquire, transfer and register land in the country, adding that work is also ongoing to register all cocoa farmers and their farms as well as labeling the cocoa from each farm to enable tracing. That work is about 40% complete.
Next year, he said, government would do a similar exercise for crop farmers with the view to digitalizing fertilizer distribution, and also register all fishermen and digitalize the distribution of premix fuel for them.
The Vice President noted that the digital Ghana agenda has also given birth to an innovative motor insurance verification platform that allows law enforcers to instantly check the authenticity or otherwise of motor insurance certificates as well as driver and vehicle licenses via the use of mobile phone.
Indeed, even average Ghanaians can conveniently check that information on their mobile phones before they decide to board any particular vehicle.
According Dr. Bawumia, this is possible because the National Insurance Commission has implemented the Motor Insurance Database, which is designed to clear the roads of vehicles with fake motor insurance certificates.
“With the digitalization of motor insurance, all insurance policy certificates now have key security features and have been synchronized to the national database, which can be easily accessed via the mobile phone by the insured, the police and the general public by dialing *920*57# – Send and follow the prompts,” he said.
Dr. Bawumia said he does not know of any African country that has a motor insurance database so he believes Ghana is the first.
Meanwhile, since the digitalization of the operations of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), their productivity has grown by an impressive 109 per cent, Dr. Bawumia said.
He said the improvement is a reflection of how many Ghanaians now apply online for new licenses and for renewal and get it within a day or a few days, adding that applicants are no longer having to wait for months or pay bribes to middle men for assistance.