There is a general consensus, however, that digitisation (the greater use of technology to solve societal challenges) will be essential to rectifying the damage of the pandemic.
The Ghanaian government, that of H.E President Nana Akufo-Addo, could not agree more.
We see technological advancement as a means of securing Ghana’s economic recovery from the pandemic and providing our citizens with the skills and opportunities they rightly demand from us.
Out of a population of 31 million, a total of 14 million Ghanaians have received their cards thus far and this includes over 85% of adults.
The importance of the card’s uptake cannot be underestimated.
Card holders will be readily identifiable and therefore have access to all government services, whether it’s the police, the health service, or the passport office.
They will no longer need to pay for documentation, fraudulent or otherwise, and will now be connected to Ghana’s financial system, giving them access to capital and investment.
As such, with an official ID in hand, Ghanaians who once lived on the edge of society are now connected not just to their fellow citizens, but to the institutions and services that belong to them by right.
It is these connections that weave the fabric of our national society, making us one nation, and providing each citizen with the same privileges and guarantees.
As an outward-looking country, we also want to democratise access to the outside world, connecting Ghanaians with opportunities across the globe.
That’s why our Ghana Card has an e-passport component, allowing Ghanaians safe passage back to Ghana from all airports operating under the ICAO.
According to ICAO, border control authorities will be able to confirm the veracity of the Ghana Card in less than 10 seconds, establishing that it has not been altered, cloned, or copied.
In practical terms, this means that the relevant authorities will be able to verify the identity of Ghanaian passport holders faster and more effectively.
In the not-too-distant future, we expect that electronic visas will be issued under ICAO 2.0 and other future protocols. When this starts, electronic visas could be issued on the Ghanacard.
The e-passport also means that the Ghanaian diaspora will no longer need a visa to re-enter the country, incentivising them to spend more time here, to the benefit of both our society and economy.
While Ghanaians should always travel with their physical passport, our citizens can now be safe in the knowledge that if they are facing difficulties abroad, their Ghana Card will smooth their journey home.
In this sense, the card is like an insurance policy, but one that is free – a great rarity indeed.
Beyond foreign travel, the Ghana Card’s popularity is explained by our citizens having rightly associated increased digitisation with increased prosperity.
Ghanaians are ambitious: they want to be able to take out a loan to start a new business, they want to travel for work, they want and need official documentation, whether it’s to drive a taxi, start a restaurant, or build a home.
Digitisation enables the fulfilment of these personal ambitions, and it will strengthen the fabric of our society too.
The primary role of government is to keep its people safe and provide them with economic opportunity and digitisation does both.
I believe that the pandemic and its fallout have made a leading role for government more important than ever.
From the African continent to the United Kingdom and US, debt and inflation have soared, and money is tight.
Security. Education. Healthcare. Access to the outside world.
Ghana, and indeed every country, needs to get these things right to recover from the damage of the pandemic and to get through the now seemingly locked door to economic prosperity.
I firmly believe that the digitisation agenda is the key that fits the lock and we Ghanaians commend it to our friends and allies around the world.
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