GCNet Shows the Way as Takoradi and Tema ports go Paperless

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To give a further boost to the realisation of the reforms announced by the Vice President at the Port Efficiency Conference in May 2017, GCNet has commenced paperless operations at Takoradi effective August 1, 2017 and scaled up the process to the Tema port to kictstart on August 7. This came to light at the commencement of a month long sensitisation campaign with all players in the trade facilitation space following a recent government directive to ports operators to ensure that all trade transactions are fully paperless.

According to the Training Coordinator at GCNet, Mr. Agyaaku Nkansah, GCNet had already deployed the infrastructure to give full effect to the pursuit of the paperless transactions regime and reiterated that all activities in the trade facilitation chain at the various ports will be enabled by an electronic system powered by GCNet which was supported by robust data centres across the country.

Following the proposed three prong reforms at the country’s ports which include joint inspection by all mandated examination agencies and removal of barriers along the trade corridors of the country, GCNet has started sensitisation and refresher sessions for all stakeholders to orient them on the process flow for the new regime expected to kick start on September 1, 2017

The stakeholders covered in the refresher engagement sessions include Customs officials, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Agents, Shipping Lines, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, the terminal operators, the courier providers, and scan operators among others in the value chain to ensure that this objective is fully realized within the timeframe stipulated.

The sensitisation programme which begun at the Tema Port addressed how the systems deployed would ensure that the policy directive is implemented to the core. It involved the review of the pilot implementation which GCNet spearheaded in 2013 at Takoradi port and 2014 at the Kotoka International Airport. The review involved a gap analysis on the processes to identify the usage of paper in the clearance chain and the e-solutions GCNet had developed to be deployed in response to the gaps identified.

The new clearance process flow would include the attachment of documents in the GCNet system for onward transmission to Customs for further action to be taken on those documents submitted. This would be complimented by a schedule process flow to be utilised by Customs officers to notify relevant government inspection agencies to make themselves available for the joint inspection procedures at the ports. These steps, which are to be automated will be supported by an alert system via sms and emails to all agencies.

Deputy Commissioner of Operations at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mrs. Christine Akoto Bamfo explained that the idea of joint inspection and paperless was to make the clearance process easier for all.

Mrs. Akoto Bamfo advised all stakeholders to embrace the new reforms as outlined by the Vice President to make port management in the country more efficient and competitive.

She was confident that even though there would be challenges at the initial phases of implementation, it was imperative on all stakeholders to make the new system work.

Speaking at the recent edition of the National Trade Facilitation Awards in Accra, Executive Chairman of GCNet, Dr. Nortey Omaboe announced that in a bid to ensure that the vision to go paperless which GCNet spearheaded in 2011 is fully realised and the benefits accrued to the citizenry, there had been service upgrades on GCNet applications for regulatory agencies and other players in the trade facilitation space to ensure smooth operational environment.

GCNet has gone further to integrate its systems with terminal operators and shipping lines such as the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Meridian Ports Services (MPS), Tema Container Terminal (TCT) and others for the exchange of electronic data.

Prior to the sensitisation sessions, GCNet had earlier met the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry & Tourism to brief the Committee on key measures it had taken in preparedness for the realisation of the directive by the Vice President.

As a follow up, the Committee had paid a working visit to GCNet to learn at first the state of preparedness for the September 1 deadline for the commencement of the full paperless regime in the clearance processes.

His Excellency, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia  on at a recent Ports Efficiency Conference held on May 17, 2017 directed that all trade transactions be fully paperless, as well as joint inspection by all regulatory and examination bodies mandated to do and removal of barriers along the trade corridors of the country.

Source: Businessweek Africa

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