The Country Director of CUTS-Ghana, Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, has called on the government to use the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as an opportunity to transform the mode of communication and business transaction in the public sector.
He said it was important for ministries, departments and agencies (MMDAs) to be directed to immediately depart from the old ways of using hard copies of documents in transacting business to the use of official emails and online transactions.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, he stressed that the government’s directive on social distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak would be meaningful if all state institutions moved their services online and resorted to communicating by email, since that would limit physical contacts and curb the spread of the pandemic.
“In this era of COVID-19, one thing that we must avoid is the movement of printed documents from one person to the another due to the potential nature of viral contamination”.
“To prevent this danger, MDAs must permit people to scan and email documents or have them uploaded on the eGov.gh platform. People should be given electronic approval like it is done in some jurisdictions,” he stressed.
Mr Adomako further indicated that the pandemic was a wake-up call for state institutions to regularly update their websites with relevant information and also have robust call centres to limit the tendency of members of the public going to those institutions for petty enquiries.
“Majority of the MMDAs’ website lack the required information and whenever you attempt to call the telephone numbers listed on their web page, the call will either not go through or when it goes through, the chances of the call not being picked is high. These things must be fixed urgently,” he said.
Mr Adomako lauded some universities that have deployed virtual or online learning platforms for students following the outbreak of the pandemic in the country and called on government establishments to learn from that good example.
Call to action
He observed that it was worrying that most of the state institutions had still not moved on to the use of official emails in transacting business.
“The government must ensure strict enforcement of this regulation to make it compulsory for all of public workers to get official emails while NITA must also ensure that their services work all the time,” he said.
He noted that the bureaucratic processes in the public sector that created inefficiencies and undue delays in accessing services needed an overhaul.
“On some occasions, it becomes a nightmare in dealing with the state as you can be told that your records or application cannot be located or the person working on it has gone on leave,” he said.