Lands Minister intensifies efforts at implementing an aggressive digitalization agenda

The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has declared that his Ministry is determined to ensure that it is not left out in the digitization drive being championed by the Akufo-Addo government and therefore has intensified efforts at implementing an aggressive digitization agenda.

On the wings of this agenda, the Minister has today, 19th January 2022, launched the Digitalised Property Mark Registration or Renewal Process, and the Ghana Electronic Wood Tracking System, two digital application platforms for the smooth running of system processes in the Forestry sub-Sector.

The first app, Digitalised Property Mark Registration or Renewal process is a web-based application that automates the process of property mark registration or renewal while the other app, Ghana Electronic Wood Tracking System is an application to track the process of wood from the point of resource, through harvesting and processing to point of sale.

The Minister stipulated that in this digitalized dispensation, the country risks being left behind if significant investments are not made into technological projects such as these two applications.

He said ” our world is at a stage where science and technology have become the new currency for development and the direction in which it’s headed, without significant investment in information and communication technology, we risk being left behind in the global developmental agenda”

He opined that it is for this reason that since his assumption of office in 2017, the government of President Akufo-Addo has been pursuing a digitization agenda in all aspects of the country’s national institutions, particularly the Lands and natural resources which constitute the country.

The Minister said he is happy that the Forestry Commission has embraced digitization, making it possible for foresters to register or renew property marks required for the cutting or felling of trees under Section 2 of the Trees and Timber Act 1974, (NRCD 273).

He said this initiative which is in accordance with the emerging global trends in the regulation and trade of forest products, will without a doubt contribute immensely to improving service delivery in the management of the country’s forest and wildlife heritage.

The Minister highly commended the Commission for doing a great job over the years while admonishing that there is room to do more.

“Whereas gathered data shows remarkable improvements in the sector over the years, we have the capacity and the ability to do more”

The Minister touted other digitization projects his Ministry has been able to execute, sighting the online application for mineral rights which commenced last year, and the tracking app for earthmoving machines as an example in the mining sub-sector.

For the Lands sector, he mentioned that the Lands Commission has been able to move some of its services online including searches from the comfort of homes. All these help facilitate efficient land administration.

The Minister expressed his profound gratitude to the UK Government for their investments in making these projects work and also hoped that the co-operation between the two countries will grow stronger.

Dr. Julian P. Wright, the West Africa Senior Climate Change and Natural Resources Advisor who spoke on behalf of the British High Commission said he is happy about the progress Ghana is making with regards to climate change, adding that his country is really looking forward to the two countries coming to completion on the signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).

He added that issues relating to Forestry forms an Integral part of the UK Government and this was evident at the climate change conference (COP 26) held in Glasgow last year.

“We are very committed to having an equal agreement with Ghana for the process of signing the voluntary partnership agreement”

He commended Ghana for the contributions made so far towards climate change while congratulating the sector for such a big win. “Congratulations and let’s make 2022 a big year for Climate Change, a big year for making progress on Forestry, and a big year for Ghana”

The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Mr. John Allotey stating the need for these applications said: ” the need for technology and innovation in our engagement with clients and for the Commission to be able to meet the target and keep pace with the International best practice is the reason for the introduction of the apps”.

Mr. Allotey encouraged all Forestry contractors to sign unto these apps and warned ” without the property mark you cannot harvest, transport, mill or treat your timber”

He further announced that the Forestry Training Center has received accreditation from the Institute of Technical, Vocational Training to run a competency-based training in woodwork and furniture making.

Mr. Allotey said that he is particularly happy that these apps were internally developed and commended the team which he said was led by Mr. Adu Mintah

He also expressed his appreciation to the UK High Commission for installing solar panels in 34 districts and hoped that these two applications will save time and improve work efficiency as about 1000 staff have been trained in preparation for rollout.

In his closing remarks the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Lands and Forestry, Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio called on all contractors to sign unto the two platforms and make good use of them promising that he will inspect to ensure that this is thoroughly done.

The Tracking system application has other functionalities such as stock Enumeration and assessment, Pre felling inspection, tree information form among other useful functions it can perform.

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