The Executive Director of the National Service Scheme (NSS), Osei Assibey Antwi, has disclosed that the infusion of digital technology in the operations of his outfit has saved Ghana at least Gh₵112m in blocked payments to 14,027 undeserving persons.
He made the disclosure during an unannounced visit to his office by the Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia on Monday.
Mr Assibey Antwi explained that the introduction of the Metric app, which combines facial recognition technology and identity card checks for verification and validation, which had so far blocked the enrolment of 14,027 potential fraudsters onto the Scheme, led to saving the nation the colossal amount of money.
“This app scans faces of prospective service persons and matches them with their Ghana Card for authentication and validation. Though 113,254 people had enrolled for national service, some 14 thousand out of this figure could not be verified and registered.
“Without this app, these people would have gone through registration and received monthly service allowance though they may not exist. They were blocked at the gate; so they could not get the chance to even enter and get registered,” he said.
Taking Dr Bawumia round, Mr Assibey Antwi said the entire National Service process had been digitised, making it easier and more user friendly, adding that “it has made it possible to introduce new modules based on the specializations of the students, such as building technology, agriculture and accounting, and the fostering of relationships with relevant institutions”.
He said, for instance, that over 40,000 Accounting students are produced every year, and stressed the need for proper use of their talents to help both the government and private sector.
“We are holding discussions with the Ghana Revenue Authority to partner us to provide basic book keeping services to Government and the private sector,” he said, adding that similar discussions were ongoing with Eximbank to provide start-up capital and tools for those trained in agriculture after internship at the Dawhenya Greenhouse facility.
Mr Assibey Antwi also added that personnel with a background in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are receiving training in 24 locations across the country on developing and growing a business in the ICT sector.
Commending the leadership of the Scheme for their “out of the box thinking”, Vice-President Bawumia expressed delight that the fruits of digitalisation, designed to formalise the economy and fight corruption, are manifesting widely.
“I will like to congratulate you on your digitalisation drive, which has proven to be very effective because, so far, you and your partners are saving this country from wasting over a Ghc112 million this year.
“This achievement is massive by any stretch because if we replicate this in ten institutions, we are talking of saving the country almost a billion cedis; you can understand why it is so important to link the pay roll with the Ghana Card, which in your case has chased 14,027 people away,” he said.
Dr Bawumia noted that digitising the greater portion of the economy is the surest way to enable government achieve its quest to protect the public purse.
“You have an outside the box thinking, and I think this is how we all should go. So you can be assured of a 150 per cent support from my office to advocate for you, and also enable you to actualise all these initiatives because, at last, the country will benefit more from the skills you have impacted them,” he assured.
Dr Bawumia noted that if the use of technology in just one institution had saved the country Gh₵112m, then one can “imagine how much would be saved if 10 institutions, or the entire public sector, infused digitalization in their operations, especially in the verification of workers before the payment of compensation”.