The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has said the former President, John Dramani Mahama Mahama’s criticism of the Ghana Post GPS betrays his lack of knowledge about the system.
The former President, addressing supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) after a unity walk in Cape Coast described the new addressing system as a ‘419’ scam.
“How can you launch a Google GPS system that is freely available on our mobile phone and say it is a national addressing system. It is such a pity. Why will you embarrass the president so much? You go and take a whole president to bring him to come and launch a system that is 419,” John Mahama said.
This opinion of the former President about the GPS system, the Vice President, in a response said betrays the lack of knowledge on the system on the part of former President John Mahama.
“Yesterday I read that former President Mahama described Ghana’s NDPAS as a 419 scam. When I read his reasoning for such a description, it was evident to me that he has no clue about what he was talking about and was just engaged in parroting propaganda,” the Vice President wrote in a response.
Below is the full statement:
H.E DR. MAHAMUDU BAWUMIA RESPONDS TO H.E. JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA ON THE NATIONAL DIGITAL PROPERTY ADDRESSING SYSTEM (NDPAS).
Yesterday I read that former President Mahama described Ghana’s NDPAS as a 419 scam. When I read his reasoning for such a description, it was evident to me that he has no clue about what he was talking about and was just engaged in parroting propaganda. I actually had a good laugh. Let me therefore take this opportunity to educate him and others who may think like him about Ghana’s landmark digital property addressing which has been achieved in less than one year, something his government could not do in eight years!
I hope that in all humility former President Mahama can now accept criticism from me since by the Grace of God I have now occupied the office of Vice President of the Republic.
What is the National Digital Property Address System?
The NDPAS is a national database system that provides the digital address for every landed property in Ghana. Basically every 5x5m property has a unique digital address on the grid with region, district and postcode. Under this system, 16.1 billion addresses have been generated for the whole of Ghana. It relies on surveyed data from Lands Commission and the Latitude and Longitudes to generate postcodes and addresses for every square inch of Ghana. The NDPAS comes with the National Address Registry to keep records of all citizens on where they register as their office and residential addresses. The Platform comes with open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to allow third party application developers integrate into the system to be able to translate and use the digital addresses to help facilitate transactions. It is important to note that the NDPAS is independent of Google and any other mapping tool. Google will not give the postcode, region or district for a particular location for example. It will not give you a register of addresses for every user. Banks for example cannot confirm an address by going to Google maps but they can do so through the NDPAS for registered users.
It is very important that we distinguish the NDPAS from the applications that are developed to use the system. We should not confuse the system with the applications.
The GhanaPostGPS App is a tool that helps everyone easily know what their address is. It relies on the open APIs of the NDPAS to retrieve addresses for properties across the country. The app uses maps provided by Google, Openstreet, ESRI and Bing to aid in easy identification and navigation.
It is expected that many app developers will integrate their apps into the NDPAS and utilize the address system to push ecommerce and service delivery. One can see organizations such as Ghana Water, ECG, Banks, etc. developing apps using the NDPAS for their own purposes.
Uniqueness of Ghana’s Digital Address System
Many have indicated that there are other digital address systems in the world; of course but those do not detract from the fact that what we have in Ghana is something pretty special. None of the digital address systems in the world focus on local relevance in the same way that the GhanaPostGPS platform does. The GhanaPostGPS platform relies on Surveyed data to provide addresses. That means when you request your address, the platform makes reference to your district and region before determining your address, unlike other platforms that just use mathematics to calculate and assign an address.
The postcode system built into this platform utilizes the Spiral Matrix Postcode Algorithm to generate the various postcodes across the nation where the centre is postcode 0, postcode 1 is 500 meters, postcode 2 is 500m from postcode 1 going in a spiral until the entire district has been addressed with postcodes.
A digital address system complete with postcodes is pretty unique. A digital address system complete with postcodes that reference surveyed data is totally unheard of in the world! As far as I am aware, there is simply no digital address system available in the world today that uses Ghana specific Lands Commission survey data complete with postcodes. The digital address system that we have implemented is leapfrogging Ghana into the 21st century!
It is no surprise that this system came top after 28 companies (including some of the best companies in the world in this area) expressed interest in the bid process to provide a digital address system for Ghana.
COST OF THE NATIONAL DIGITAL ADDRESS SYSTEM
Ghana is undertaking a project to implement a NDPAS. The cost of the project as advertised is GH¢9.9m or $2.3 million (VAT inclusive). It should be noted that this amount is the total cost of the project, not just the app. For those like former President Mahama saying this could have been delivered for free, please take note:
1. There is a cost of the public awareness campaign to aid in the public education and awareness creation for the National Digital address system over the next 12 months. You have all seen the “Jack Where are you” billboards, internet and social media placements as well as heard the adverts on radio.
2. Infrastructure Set Up Cost – the costs of Servers (production and redundancies), firewalls, operating system and database licenses as well as support have all been included in the cost of the project.
3. Third party licensing fees. At the launch, Vokacom made it clear that the platform could run using any map provider such as openstreet and google. To present a seamless user experience, they opted to pay google for the use of their map services. The Hon. Minister of Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has made it clear that the government will not be paying any more money to any mapping solutions provider when the current term expires. We are in fact working with Google, Microsoft, esri and openstreet to agree and go with one of these solutions providers.
4. The cost of physically embossing 4,000 government and other public buildings.
5. The cost of training for all staff of Ghanapost as well as other stakeholders such as NCCE across the nation is included in this cost. So far, over 800 buildings have been embossed with their digital addresses and more than 500 persons have been trained across the country. More embossment and training are ongoing.
6. The cost of over 300 smart devices equipped with the Offline version of the app are being deployed across the nation to staff of Gdhanapost and other supporting agencies to assist citizens who do not have smartphones.
7. Testing, that is “ground truthing”, across the nation to give assurance of the validity of the system.
8. Intellectual property of the developers
How could anyone claim that this project could have come for free? Would the free givers have given us free public education, servers, firewalls, house embossments, training and smart devices all for free?
It is worth noting that other companies bid as high as GHS170million for this project. In fact, one of the most credible international companies that participated put in a bid for over GHS38million. The NDPAS is therefore value for money. Countries such as Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Mongolia are all implementing NDPASs similar to Ghana and none has opted for a free Google or other existing free mapping app. In fact, from the prices quoted by the international main supplier of the digital address systems all these countries have spent at least three times more than Ghana for their digital property address systems.
For former president Mahama to claim that Ghana’s NDPAS and the accompanying GhanaPostGPS app is a 419 scam demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the system. We have been witnesses to 8 years of his governance as vice president and president and we know what 419 scams look like.
The National Digital Property Address System:
• is not your 419 GH¢200 million SADA Guinea fowl and tree planting scam
• is not your 419 Smarttys Bus Branding scam
• is not your 419 $23 million runway at Kumasi Airport
• is not your 419 GH¢ 952 million GYEEDA scam
• is not the 419 $14 million mansion for the vice president
• is not the 419 GH¢657m Woyome, Waterville and other judgement debt scams
We know a 419 scam when we see one and that unfortunately was the hallmark of the administration of former president Mahama. Ghanaians will find out more soon as people are held legally accountable. With the record that former president Mahama has in the area of governance, it is incredible that he would have the effrontery to talk about “419 scams”.
We have spent $2.3 million on a NDPAS and I dare say it is money well spent for the benefit of all Ghanaians. It is not money finding itself into the pockets of a few cronies. We did not spend it on Akonfem, bus branding, over-priced mansions and contracts, ghost roads, etc. We have spent it on something productive. As a result, Ghana has an excellent digital property addressing system if former president Mahama would care to take some time and just read and learn about it. It was developed by Ghanaians and we should collectively take pride in their work and not try to pull them down.
Work is proceeding and the NDPAS will be implemented with the physical tagging of each house next year as well as the synchronization of the digital address of each property with the address on the utility bills of the property.
I should note that propaganda did not help former President Mahama when he was in government and it is certainly not going to help him in opposition. We welcome constructive criticism but before you criticize, please take your time to make sure you know what you are talking about otherwise you would be sadly exposed as being ignorant of simple facts as in this case.