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Vice President Bawumia Launches Digitalized National Assay Laboratory

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has launched the Digitalized National Assay Laboratory in Accra.

According to the Vice President, the Digitalized National Assay Laboratory which ties in with Government’s agenda is aimed at streamlining governance by cutting down on the human interface, and making processes digital and more efficient.

Speaking at the launch, the Vice President said "In 2017, President Akufo-Addo, directed that Government identifies a way to independently verify gold exports in order to ensure that the country obtains revenue due it from its precious mineral resources. As a result, under the leadership of Kiston Akomeng Kissi, the Board Chairman of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company Limited (PMMC) and driven by the late Hon. Kwadjo Opare-Hammond (may his soul rest in peace), the then Managing Director of PMMC, stakeholder engagements begun towards the implementation of this directive"

The Vice ollowing several engagements with the Ghana Chamber of Mines and the Association of Gold Exporters, now Chamber of Bullion Traders, Ghana, modalities for the smooth take-off of the National Assay Program were put in place.

"I have, therefore, followed with keen interest the consistent efforts to improve the program to maximize its efficiency. I am informed that as part of measures to optimize revenue and ultimately maximize the benefits from our natural resources, the silver identified in the gold d’ore which is exported shall soon be quantified and the appropriate tax levied on and collected from same. Again, in 2021, under the leadership of Hon. Kissi, with support from the Sector Minister, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor and driven by the current Managing Director, Nana Akwasi Awuah, the National Assay Program was digitalized" he noted.

The Veep mentioned that Digitization has now made it possible to generate assay certificates which have unique security features.

These unique features, he stated, will make the certificates difficult to forge by gold scammers to facilitate their dubious elaborate schemes.

"Digitization has also now made it possible to monitor in real time, gold exports passing through the National Assay Laboratory. Additionally, it has improved collation of timely data on gold export figures and revenues in order to aid national economic planning"

"As are aware, Government is already transforming the governance of various sectors of Ghana’s economy through digitization. Government’s digitization drive is a key component of the overall economic strategy because the Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us and Ghana must take advantage of it if we are not to be left behind. There is a growing body of empirical evidence that illustrates the capacity of digital technology to create jobs, significantly boost productivity, increase income and support wealth creation"

"The digitalization drive of Government is spreading to cover many sectors of the national economy. One area where the Government has made significant inroads has been using digitalization to address the issue of efficient public service delivery and checking corruption"

Dr. Bawumia mentioned that Government’s approach to improving the delivery of public services is to minimize human contact as much as possible.

He stressed that government has embarked on an aggressive digitalization of the processes of service delivery across many public institutions.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to indicate that the launch of the Digitalized National Assay Laboratory today is a major addition to the Government’s portfolio of digital initiatives already implemented. Digitalization of the Passport Office: Following digitization, passport applications are now online and there is no need for middlemen or for the payment of bribes to obtain a passport. The average turnaround time for the acquisition of passports has been significantly reduced and there is even now an additional option of delivery service"

"Digitalization of the Ports: Most of the bottlenecks that caused delays, corruption, inefficiencies, frustration and loss of revenue to Government are being eliminated as a result of digitalization at our national ports. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA): With the digitalization of the driver licenses in 2019, the Authority experienced an increase in service delivery by 109% in 2020. As at August 2021, an additional 16% improvement in performance has been achieved"

Speaking on motor insurance database, the Vice President told the gathering that the National Insurance Commission has, through the Motor Insurance Database, introduced a digitalized system to curb the menace of vehicles with fake motor insurance stickers plying our roads and endangering lives and property.

On Registrar-General’s Department, he hinted that by digitalization, processes at the Department have currently been made simple, transparent, and efficient.

"Births and Deaths Registry Digitalization: Processing of the registration of births and deaths have improved significantly. All SSNIT offices across Ghana have been networked and processes have been digitalized, improving its pension administration framework. Scholarship Secretariat Applications;The launch of the online portal is in line with Government’s vision to improve the efficiency of scholarship administration in the country.

Dr. Bawumia indicated that the "Ghana.Gov” Platform, with its launch as a one-stop shop for easy access to government services, all government institutions are expected to be on the Ghana.Gov platform by the end of the year.

He mentioned that the mobile Ghana.Gov App is also now available on Google Playstore and on Apple App Store.

On integration of databases, he mentioned that the key to building a data-based economy is not only in generating data but more importantly the different sets of data must be integrated, synchronized and efficiently utilized.

The Vice reminded the gathering that Ghana has the opportunity to integrate the databases that have been generated from the ongoing digitalization processes.

"Government under the leadership of H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recognizes that our progress as a nation in the modern world is inextricably linked to digitalization and will therefore continue its adoption for enhanced service delivery. It is a critical path for our nation to remain competitive in the world of today and tomorrow.

He pledged government's support to public or private institutions, which intends implementing digital initiatives for efficiency.

On his part the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor said "We began with the Lands Commission, by fusing the different searches conducted by the various Divisions of the Commission into one composite search, and made it possible to conduct an online search, from the comfort of your home. Then in November, 2021, the Minerals Commission followed, with the abolition of paper-based applications, and moved all applications for mineral rights online. And early this year, we launched the Digitalised Property Mark Registration and Renewal Process, and the Ghana Electronic Wood Tracking System of the Forestry Commission; two digital platforms that allow loggers to register and renew their Property Marks online, and allows us to track wood from harvesting to its final disposal"

The Minister explained that the Digitalised Assay Laboratory is part of the National Assay Programme his Ministry rolled out in 2017, to effectively monitor gold exports from both large and small scale mining.

"We are doing all these, as part of measures to make the lands and natural resources sector of our country fit for purpose, for the benefit of Ghanaians. Article 257(6) of our national Constitution, vests all minerals in their natural state in the President of the Republic, “on behalf of, and in trust for the people of Ghana.” The exploitation and utilisation of our mineral resources must, therefore, inure to the benefit of the people of Ghana, the true owners of these minerals"

"It is for this reason that, since 2017, we begun putting in place the building blocks to retain, here in Ghana, the full value of our natural resources. We have, therefore, committed to move away from export of raw materials, to value addition and industrialisation, for a prosperous economy. In 2018, we begun, under a Public – Private Partnership, the construction of a four hundred kilogramme (400kg) capacity gold refinery, which is now fully completed, and ready to start refining our gold. This refinery is timely, as the Bank of Ghana commences the purchase of gold domestically to shore up its reserves, and contribute to the retention of the value of our mineral resources"

He revealed that working with the Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders, his Ministry has, also, initiated the processes of securing a London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Certification, to enable us easily export and trade our refined gold on the international market.

"A joint Committee of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Finance, is working around the clock to ensure that we secure this certification in record time. To ramp up our efforts at promoting small scale mining, we have reduced the withholding tax rate for the sale of unprocessed gold by small scale miners from three percent (3%) to one point five percent (1.5%)"

"Mr. Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen, our quest to retain the full value of our mineral resources is not only limited to gold. The Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC), established by Act 976 of 2018, is working to develop an integrated aluminium industry in our country, from bauxite mining to aluminium production. Last year, the Corporation launched a Four Project Agenda, to expand the existing bauxite mine in Awaso, develop a new mine at Nyinahini-Mpassaso with a refinery, develop two new mines at Kyebi and Nyinahini, together with a refinery, and modernise and expand the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO) to process alumina from the refineries"

He disclosed that a strategic partner has already been engaged for the development of the Nyinahini mine with a refinery, and we are developing a Masterplan, which, when approved by Cabinet, will enable us position VALCO to make it ready to process alumina refined here in Ghana.

Taking his turn, the Managing Director of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), Nana Akwasi Awuah said "Your Excellency, another unique feature of the digitalized assay laboratory is that, it now makes it possible to obtain in real time, data on gold exports"

This, he explained, will aid in effective national economic planning.

He stressed that since the commencement of the National Assay Program till date, PMMC has been able to assay a total Weighton gold of about 18million ounces at an estimated total value of USD$27billion.

Nana Awuah added that, out of the USD$27billion, the ASM sector accounted for 6.6million ounces valued at USD$9.2billion representing about 40%, while the large scare sector accounted for 11.3million ounces at USD$17.9billion.

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith



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