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PART 2: #BawumiaSpeaks: More False Claims Found in Vice President Dr Bawumia’s Digitization Speech

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On November 2, 2021, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia delivered a public lecture on the digital economy of the country at Ashesi University. The public lecture, dubbed #BawumiaSpeaks, also had an interactive session with students and invited guests on how ‘digitization’ is transforming the economy and positioning Ghana for the emerging global digital revolution.

Dubawa verified a number of claims made by the Vice President and identified a mix of true, false and mostly false claims in part one of our report.

Similar findings were made in Part 2 of our fact-check of the Vice President’s speech.

Claim 1: Ghana currently has the largest medical drone delivery service in the world

There is not enough evidence to give precise data on the volume of service that Ghana provides compared to other countries, even though it has been reported by various outlets that it is the largest medical drone delivery service in the world. 

Fact-checker: Kennedy Twumasi

Verification

According to the World Record Academy, the world’s largest record certifying organization, Ghana is currently the World’s largest medical drone delivery service.

The Co-founder of Zipline, Keller Rinaudo, is also quoted in a report by CNBC, a business and financial news network, that in 2019, it completed about 4,000 lifesaving emergency deliveries but the launch of Zipline in Ghana in 2019 is about 20 times the scale of that. This gives a fair idea of the capacity of the service in Ghana.

“In the last year, we completed roughly 4,000 lifesaving emergency deliveries, but what we’re launching in Ghana is about 20 times the scale of that,” said Zipline’s Rinaudo, who adds that the company currently serves 25 facilities in Rwanda and is on track to serve nearly 2,000 facilities in Ghana by the end of the year.

Also, The Head of Communication of Zipline, Justine Hamilton, in an interview with Joy News in 2019 during the launch of Zipline said it “will be rolling out all four basins, and ultimately it will be serving over 2,000 clinics and up to 12 million people in Ghana”.

Claim 2: We engaged Google last year and they have agreed to integrate our digital address system (house number, street names, and digital address) into Google Maps. We are hoping to complete the integration by the end of the year. This will be the first such integration of a country’s digital property address system into Google Maps that I am aware of

Fact-checker: Maxine Gloria Danso

Verification

It was announced on the official Instagram account of the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office on 11 October 2021 that in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi now has 200,000 building addresses in Google Maps. This is reported to be part of the emirate’s Onwani unified addressing system by the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport. 

The post adds that more than 19,000 street names have been created with their navigation systems also accessible on Google Maps.

Source: Abu Dhabi Media Office Instagram

UAE launched this ahead of Ghana and will not make Ghana the first country to integrate digital address systems into Google Maps when it is finally launched by the end of 2021. 

Furthermore, beyond being any country’s initiative or having exclusivity, in 2020, Google introduced a feature known as Plus Codes – a free, open-source digital address-making system – that enables everyone in the world to have access to a digital address searchable in Google Maps. This even includes places where there are no digital addresses or street names or even streets that currently exist. 

“The Plus Codes use latitude and longitude to produce a short, easy-to-share digital address that can represent any location on the planet. For example, the Plus Code “W2GJ+JQ, Johannesburg” represents the main entrance to the Google office in Johannesburg, South Africa. Put this code into Google Maps or Google Search and you’ll be brought right to our front door in Johannesburg,” Google explains

Google further details how anyone can generate their own digital address to be searched in Google Maps here

Claim 3: Ghana is the first country that I know of in Africa to implement a Universal QR Code payment system that accommodates both bank accounts and mobile wallets.

A number of foreign reports show that Ghana’s launch of a QR Universal Code in March 2020 makes her the first African country with this initiative. 

Fact-checker: Maxine Gloria Danso

Verification

In March 2020, the Vice President of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia launched Ghana’s Universal QR Code and Proxy Pay System in Accra, which was at the time argued to be the first of its kind on the African continent. 

According to a report by FinTech Futures in October 2020, Ghana is the first African country to harmonise a QR Code payment system that allows for payments to be made through bank accounts, mobile wallets, and cards.

This is corroborated with another report by QR Code Tiger which lists how African countries are integrating QR Codes in a diverse number of sectoral services. 

“Due to the vagaries of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana’s central bank has launched a universal QR code payment solution with HPS or (Hightech Payment Systems) just last year, making it the first African country to introduce a universal QR code system,” the report reads

On a global front, a report by Global Government Forum published in September 2019 shows that countries such as Singapore, Saudi Arabia, India, and China launched theirs before Ghana. 

However, the QR Codes of these countries mainly facilitate e-payment for bank transactions (except China which also has mobile money payment) whereas Ghana is among the few African countries with a bank and mobile money payment system initiatives. 

QR Codes stand for Quick Responses Codes. It provides customers and merchants the convenience and safety to simply use their smartphones to scan the QR code and make electronic payments from their bank accounts, debit cards, and mobile money wallets. This initiative facilitates electronic payment among small-scale and large-scale businesses where merchants can instantly receive payments through a static or dynamic QR code. 

Claim 4: Inflation reduced from 15% to near single digits over the last five years

Figures from the World Bank, Ghana Statistical Service, and Statista points to Ghana’s inflation rate moving from double digits in 2015 to single digit in 2020.

Fact-checker: Jeffrey Nyabor

Verification:

According to the IMF, inflation measures how much more expensive a set of goods and services has become over a certain period, usually a year.

The most well-known indicator of inflation is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the percentage change in the price of a basket of goods and services consumed by households.

To verify the claim by the Vice-President, we refer to figures from the  World Bank, Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), the Ministry of Finance, and Statista from 2015 to 2020.

YearWorld BankGSSMinistry of FinanceStatista
201517.15%17.7% (December)17.4% (October) 2016 budget17.15%
201617.455%15.4% (December)15.4% (2017 budget)17.44%
201711.7%11.8% (December)11.8% (December) 2019 budget12.37%
20180.407%9.4% (December)9.8% (September) 2019 budget9.84%
20197.176%7.9% (December)7.9% (December) 2021 budget7.14%
20209.953%10.4% (December)11.4% (July) 2021 budget9.953%
2021N/A9.7% (August)N/A9.28% ***

Figures from all four institutions concerning Ghana’s inflation rate indicate that Ghana recorded a double-digit (about 17.0+%) inflation in 2015, 2016, and 2017 but has since dropped to single digits since 2018.

According to figures from the World Bank and Statista, Ghana’s inflation rate for 2020 had hit 9.9%, making it single-digit inflation.

Also, Ghana’s inflation rate as of December 2020, according to figures from the Ghana Statistical Service is 10.4%, which qualifies to be near single-digit inflation as described by the Vice-President.

Claim 5: Recorded positive trade balance in successive years; best in more than a decade 

Figures from the World Bank, IMF, Bank of Ghana, and the Finance Ministry do not support this assertion by the Vice-President.

Fact-checker: Jeffrey Nyabor

Verification

According to the Corporate Finance Institute, Trade Balance, also known as balance of trade (BOT), refers to the difference between the monetary value of a country’s imports and exports over a given time period.

Balance of Trade is declared as positive when there is trade surplus; that is when the monetary value for exports is greater than the monetary value for imports.

However, when the monetary value for exports is less than the monetary value for imports, then there is a trade deficit, also known as a negative trade balance.

To establish a country’s Balance of Trade, one would have to look at the country’s current account – which is one of the components of a country’s Balance of Payments.

It is the current account that represents a country’s imports and exports of goods and services, payments made to foreign investors, and transfers such as foreign aid.

The claim by the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, suggests that Ghana’s exports have exceeded its imports in successive years over the past five years.

To verify the claim by the Vice-President, we will refer to figures from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bank of Ghana, and the Ministry of Finance from 2005 to 2020.

YearBank of Ghana(millions of US$)World BankIMF (millions of US$)Ministry of Finance(millions of US$)
2005-773.41-1.105 billion-1,104.6– 811.6 (Appendix 10, 2007 budget) but -1,104.60 in 2009 budget
2006-1,040.19-1.056 billion-1,056.1-812.67 (Appendix 15, 2008 budget) but -1,042.70 in 2009 budget
2007-2,201.48-2.379 billion-2,378.8-2,151.50 (Appendix 15, 2009 budget)
2008-3,543.14-3.327 billion-3,327.4-3,473.50 (Appendix 15, 2009 budget)
2009-1,600.75-1.897 billion-1,897.2-1,687.71 (Appendix 12, 2012 budget)
2010-2,769.67-2.747 billion-2,747.3-2.700.48 (Appendix 12, 2012 budget)
2011-3,541.33-3.541 billion-3,541.3-3,541.4 (Appendix 11, 2013 budget)
2012-4,910.64-4.912 billion-4,911.7-4,911 billion (Appendix 8, 2016 budget)
2013-5,704.03-5.704 billion-5,704.0-5,704 (Appendix 8, 2016 budget)
2014-3,694.47-3.695 billion-3,694.6-3,694 (Appendix 8, 2016 budget)
2015-2,823.75-2.824 billion-2,823.6-2,845 (Appendix 9A, 2017 budget)
2016-2,840.49-2.832 billion-2,832.02,832 (Appendix 9B, 2018 budget)
2017-2,003.09-2.003 billion-2,0026-2.003 billion (Appendix 8C, 2021 budget)
2018-2,043.90-2.045 billion-2,0446-2,043.6 (Appendix 11C, 2020 Budget)
2019-1,863.97-1.864 billion-1,864.0-1,864 (Appendix 8C, 2021 budget)
2020-2,134.97N/A-2,134.0-2,014 [Provisional] (Appendix 8C, 2021 budget)  

Evidently, Ghana has not recorded a positive balance of trade in successive years, at least since 2005.

In fact, according to World Bank figures, Ghana last recorded a positive balance of trade in 1980.

Claim 6: Ghana is the first country in Africa to implement a digital system in combination with house numbers and street names. 

In 2016, Ivory Coast adopted and implemented the Digital Addressing System, What3words, which generates accurate and fixed addresses.

Fact-checker: Baraka Issahaku

Verification:

Ghana, in 2017 under the NPP government introduced the Digital Address System in collaboration with GhanaPost. Ivory Coast in 2016, adopted the What3words digital addressing system as an addressing standard for La Poste, the Côte d’Ivoire’s national postal system, which gave even rural communities official addresses.

In a report by CNET and CNN in 2016 and 2017 respectively, a combination of just three words allows every location within 3m by 3m squares to be identified. At the time of writing the report, however, BBC reported that there was a challenge of people accessing their digital addresses because not every Ivorian owns a mobile phone with Internet access.

What3words is a startup based in London. The application records GPS coordinates to nine-square-meter plots and simplifies them into a three-word combination to identify specific locations. It has been described as a lifesaver by British police.

Does What3words Application generate street addresses?

In order to ascertain the street addressing feature of the application, we downloaded, installed, and ran it. 

The application can be found on the Google play store for Android users. After installation, what3words works with the location and thus needs permission to activate it. The application puts every location into 3m by 3m squares and therefore has every location under its radar, allowing it to generate street addresses as well. However, the application states that street names may not always point to the precise location. 

Nonetheless, the application has the satellite view option which allows viewers to see exactly what the location looks like.

Image: Screenshot from What3words Application

The application also allows viewers to navigate by using transportation apps like Uber, Bolt, among others. Additionally, specific locations can be shared with others, using the map view or satellite view option.

Images: Screenshots from What3words

Ivory Coast adopted and implemented this technology in 2016, indicating that they are far ahead of Ghana in the digitization of addresses in Africa.

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