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The National Digital Property Address System― A tool for growth

By Juliana B. Akyea

 

Harrison Ford, a popular American Actor, once said: “I ask for directions because I don’t want to waste time.”

 

A British tourist on holiday in Accra once asked me for directions to Okaishie which is located in the business district of Accra. She was going to drive to the destination to meet with a business partner. Instead of giving the direction, I was busy thinking of how to describe the area and what landmark to identify. Her facial expression revealed that she was disappointed as she kept looking at her wrist watch. 

 

Tourists who visit the country pass positive comments on our traditional foods, rich culture and attractive tourist sites and go further to recommend Ghana to their friends and families.

 

However, the difficulty of finding one’s way around in the busy streets of Accra or locating tourist sites in other parts of the country presents a formidable challenge.

 

Advanced countries such as USA, Britain, Germany and Canada have very effective street naming and addressing systems that have been incorporated into maps and application software that assist in locating places.

 

A street naming and addressing system in the developed world makes it very easy to find restaurants, shops and tourist sites and helps one to plan  one’s trip in advance either by train, bus or tube.

 

A street naming and addressing system in the developed world has peculiar advantages to their various economies.

 

Realizing that there are huge economic benefits in the use of a street naming and addressing system, Nigeria has adopted an effective street naming system while Ghana has just launched the National Digital Property Addressing System (NDPAS)-ghanapostGPS as part of government’s grand agenda of promoting effective governance and the formalization of the economy through the adoption of modern technology.

 

A digital address system is a unique code of address which is used to identify a location or property instead of a church, tree or street stall.

 

In the area of Business, cost is expected to decrease since the risk premium charged by banks would be lowered. This means that more funds will be reinvested and businesses can employ more hands and, thus, reduce the rising wave of unemployment.

 

On the other hand, government can increase revenue from tax since businesses liable can now be readily assessed.

 

On Health and Security, a digital address system will be especially useful since law enforcement agencies and fire and ambulance services can effectively access emergency scenes quickly in order to extend the appropriate assistance.   

 

Another important advantage of the NDPAS is job creation. The National Address Database is expected to create an avenue for new businesses and Industry as entrepreneurs could identify business opportunities and open up new businesses and employ more people while the youth may venture into delivery services, market research businesses and many more.

 

Challenges

 

Despite the numerous benefits envisaged, upon the launch and implementation of the NDPAS, a number of concerns have been raised by some stakeholders, key among which are security threats, identity theft, usability of internet connectivity and the cost involved in the development of the application.

 

We are, however, reassured that most of the security threats raised about the application have been taken care of in the development process and that the software has been customised to meet national peculiar circumstances in relation to different types of housing such as compound, kiosks, slums and bungalows, among others.

 

The technology has also taken into consideration the ICT knowledge of all beneficiaries and made user-friendly for all.

 

Way forward

 

The human society has always undergone change. Change often has an effect or reaction on people and institutions. It can either be positive or negative. However, as soon as this transformative process is over, it is realized that change pushed one a step closer towards greatness and away from mediocrity.

 

NPDAS is bound to bring about change. There is, therefore, the need to educate the public on the fundamental importance and benefits of the project―and this is urgent since government has resolved not to issue national identity cards to anyone without a digital address.

 

The media, especially those that use local languages, must roll out details about the project so that ordinary Ghanaians such as market women, drivers, truck pushers and “Kayayei”, among others, can be included in the change.

 

Training the trainer workshops could also be organized for heads of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), headmasters, teachers and school pupils in schools (Primary, Secondary and Tertiary), market women and other segments of members of the public to equip them with the  requisite information who will, in turn, teach others about the project.

 

Conclusion

 

According to George Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

 

Ghanaians must, therefore, have a positive mindset about the NDPAS and embrace the move toward digitalization since it will result in growth and a better Ghana. NDPAS is a tool for growth.

 

The writer is an officer of the Information Services Department.