Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has responded to the former President John Mahama’s criticism of the National Digital Property Addressing System (NDPAS), describing it as a “419 Scam” by the government.
The Vice President who gave the response on Monday during an agricultural consultative Forum at Peduase in the Eastern Region described the comments by the former President as unfortunate, propaganda and demonstration of lack of understanding of the operations of the System by the former President.
“Let me take the opportunity to educate him and others who may think like him about Ghana’s landmark digital property addressing system which has been achieved in less than one year, something his government could not do in eight years,” he said.
“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 Ghana Post GPS 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, Open street, ESRI and Bing to aid in easy identification and navigation.
“It is expected that many application developers will integrate their apps into the NDPAS and utilise the address system to push ecommerce and service delivery,” the statement explained.
Dr Bawumia said individuals and corporate organisations such as; the Ghana Water Company, Electricity Company of Ghana, Banks, among others, could contact the application developers, Vokacom, when 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 Ghana Post GPS platform does.
“The Ghana Post GPS 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 utilises the Spiral Matrix Postcode Algorithm to generate the various postcodes across the nation where the centre is postcode 0, postcode 1 is 500 metres, 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,” it said.
Cost of the NDPAS
“The cost of the project as advertised is GH¢9.9m or $2.3 million (VAT inclusive) and 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.
“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, and Infrastructure Set Up Cost – the costs of Servers (production and redundancies), firewalls, operating system and database licences as well as support have all been included in the cost of the project.
“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.
“He said that to present a seamless user experience, they opted to pay Google for the use of their map services. Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communication, has made it clear that the government would 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, namely; The cost of physically embossing 4,000 government and other public buildings, the cost of training for all staff of Ghana Post as well as other stakeholders such as National Commission for Civic Education across the nation is included in this cost and so far, over 800 buildings have been embossed with their digital addresses and more than 500 persons have been trained across the country while more embossment and training are ongoing.
The Vice President also stated that the cost of over 300 smart devices equipped with the Offline version of the app were being deployed across the nation to staff of Ghana Post and other supporting agencies to assist citizens who do not have smart phones.
On testing, he said it is “ground trotting”, across the nation to give assurance of the validity of the system.
Intellectual property of the developers
How could anyone claim that this project could had 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 GH¢170 million for this project. In fact, one of the most credible international companies that participated put in a bid for over GH¢38 million.
“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 addressing systems,” it said.
He noted that for former President Mahama to claim that Ghana’s NDPAS and the accompanying Ghana Post GPS app is a “419 scam” demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the system.
“We have spent $2.3 million on a NDPAS and I dare say that it is money well spent for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
“Work is proceeding and the NDPAS will be implemented with the physical tagging of each house next year as well as the synchronisation of the digital address of each property with the address on the utility bills of the property,” it noted.
“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,” it said.
He said government welcomes constructive criticisms but before anyone will criticise, he or she should make sure they know the facts very well to avoid being exposed.