GCNet: Supporting Ghana’s government with tailored e-solutions

Introduction

GCNet is a joint venture and recognised as a model Public Private Partnership, exemplifying integrity, professionalism and continuous improvement. Incorporated on November 13, 2000, with partners including Ecobank, GCB, Ghana Shippers Authority, Ghana Revenue Authority, 03 Technology and Allied Partners and SGS, GCNet is mandated to deliver an ICT infrastructure that provides electronic platforms for easing trade processes, with the aim of fostering trade development and improving revenue mobilisation for the benefit of the country.

As an ICT company and a leader in the provision of tailored e-solutions for government and its agencies, GCNet is integral to many groundbreaking innovations through which the economy of Ghana runs.

Innovations

Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS)

With the GCMS, GCNet has provided an all-in-one back-end application for the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to interface with actors in the trading community, effectively addressing the challenges of high costs, duplicate controls, unnecessary delays and an unreactive approach, as well as the error-prone paper-based and time-consuming protocols at the country’s ports..

Total Revenue Integrated Processing System (trips™)

The introduction of trips™ has led to significant improvements in the streamlining of trade processes and the way domestic taxes are administered and paid in Ghana. As at end of September 2019, about GHS16.25bn has been processed and collected through trips.

Today almost all transactions with the Ghana Revenue Authority can be done electronically and online, from applying for a Tax Identification Number (TIN), to submitting a tax return and payment of taxes. The trips™ system supports the full range of tax administration processes.

The system also exchanges real-time data with many other government systems including the National Identification Authority; the Driver Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA) for the automated validation of identity documents; and Customs for the identification of Importers and Exporters.

Online Registration for Tax Identification Number (TIN)

Government mandated that having a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) was a prerequisite for using a number of government services. This has led many taxpayers to register for a new TIN, significantly increasing the number of newly registered taxpayers. There are now over 2 million registered taxpayers with TINs, an outcome made possible by GCNet’s ICT infrastructure.

e-Registrar

The e-Registrar portal offers online business registration, culminating in the issuance of an e-Certificate, an e-Shop, and e-payment platforms. Options include company searches and the reservation of company names. e-Registrar has significantly reduced the time it takes to register businesses, and led to a phenomenal increase in revenue at the Registrar-General’s Department – from GHS46.5m in 2016 to GHS75.2m in 2017 and GHS94.28m in 2018.

Ghana Single Window App

This does more than checking Customs duties for goods by bringing transparency to import and export information. Enabling importers and exporters to plan and track goods and shipments from anywhere in the world, and submit trade-related documents among other facilities, the app has had over 10,000 downloads.

e-Payments & Integration

GCNet has integrated its systems with key stakeholders in the trading clearance chain. This includes integration with Ecobank, GCB Bank and other banks to facilitate electronic payments of duties, taxes and levies on imported goods. GCNet has completed integration with the Ghana Port & Harbors Authority through deploying its e-Delivery Order and Container Positioning modules.

GCNet has also deployed a facility for the issuance of e-Certificates of Origin for Ghanaian exports. Among other capabilities, GCNet’s facilities enable integration with Terminal Operators, Shipping Lines and Freight Forwarders for the management and distribution of Manifest to third parties (i.e. Port and Shipping Authorities).

New Innovations

Cyber Security

GCNet’s Cyber Division, working in support of Ghana’s digital transformation strategy, provides cutting-edge solutions in detection and response to threats that affect the digital economy. Its portfolio of services offerings ensure that cyber security is leveraged as a business enabler, resulting in favourable enterprise risk management and regulatory compliance.

e-Health

The e-Health portfolio offers applications including:

• The electronic Health Management Information Systems module, e-HMIS – a records management facility consisting of an electronic platform with comprehensive web-enabled services provided to health service users, providers and payers.

• The e-Health Single Window Information Management Platform – an integrated system that connects all players in the health sector including doctors, health institutions, pharmacies and labs, and enables the establishment of electronic health records for users of the health services.

• Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System (SORMAS) – an outbreak management and data driven e- tool based on flexible mobile telephone applications.

Trade Facilitation Platform (TFP) and the New Manifest

In March 2019, GCNet rolled out an upgraded version of its end-to-end smart e-solution for clearance at the ports, the Trade Facilitation Platform (TFP). TFP is a comprehensive web-based suite ensuring Transparency and Revenue Assurance to Customs. It enables maximum synergy between Customs, Logistics Partners and Other Government Agencies. The TFP works like a ‘global window’ for the worldwide trade community and governments, allowing them to tap into the “layers” of functions involved in facilitating regulatory compliance over goods clearance.

GCNet has also deployed an advanced version of the Manifest document to facilitate fast clearance of goods. It is designed to ensure that all relevant cargo data is received prior to the arrival of vessel in the country.

Shipping lines are able to directly submit the new Manifest document to the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) / Ghana Integrated Cargo Clearance Systems (GICCS) for the clearance of goods at the ports. With these roll-outs, clearance costs have been reduced and turnaround times improved.

Meridian Port Services (MPS) integration

GCNet has been instrumental and at the heart of the new Port Container Facility under the Tema Port Expansion Project, by deploying and integrating MPS to its seamless and secured Single Window platform made of Shipping lines, key regulatory agencies, banks, insurance companies, Freight forwarders and Declarants and also to the Ghana Customs Management System(GCMS).

By providing 24 hour support and leadership to the project, this has ensured a quick turnaround and more transparency for businesses. The partnership between GCNet and MPS has brought the dream of Ghana becoming a hub for maritime business in Africa a reality.

Infrastructure

Technology

GCNet operates a state-of-the-art Tier III Data Centre and four other Data Centres across strategic locations through the country as part of its deep commitment to ensuring data integrity and security. These centres cater for the 110 Customs sites and 69 Domestic Tax offices of the GRA across the country.

GCNet as a repository of government data continues to leverage on many international certification regimes including ISO 27001 for information security management and ISO 9000 for quality management to further ensure security standards and compliance.

Recognition

GCNet has been recognised many times for its pioneering role in Ghana’s digitisation journey. The recognition includes being the Trade Facilitation Organisation of the Year (2016, 2017 & 2018), Best e-Solutions Provider for the Public Sector (2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), and the Chartered Institude of Marketing Ghana’s (CMIG’s) Telecom Company of the Year – Allied & Support Services (2017 and 2018).

These demonstrate the result of the innovation culture at GCNet that entails a penchant for continuous deployment of new services which is built on a corporate ethic of pursuing excellence in service delivery and enhancement.

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