Sunday, 26 June 2016

Could Facebook Not Collaborate With Ghana To Create A New National ID System And Compile A New Voters Register?

Could our traditional culture be one of the reasons why many Ghanaians never think of Facebook as the perfect partner to collaborate with Ghana to enable our nation compile a new voters register and set up a new national ID system?

Alas, no matter which part of the country one travels to, traditional Ghanaian culture stifles personal initiative in young people, and drowns out the sense of curiosity in most young children.

Sadly, bold and talkative children fond of asking questions - treasured elsewhere for being precocious - are often browbeaten, until they are cowed into submission, in Ghana: and invariably end up becoming submissive individuals in adulthood. It is not  therefore surprising that this not a society in which creative thinkers abound - and from which precious few innovations emerge.

The aforementioned societal drawbacks, naturally don't not make for a nation in which people speak their minds boldly and freely - and take a principled stand on issues of national concern without fear or favour.  Perhaps it also a factor in why ours is a nation in which there is a dearth of imaginative people -  and in which people seldom think creatively when faced with a challenge.

Unfortunately, it has also led to a herd mentality, amongst most Ghanaians -  something that  is reflected in the way so many Ghanaians stick to the political parties they normally support, no matter how corrupt and clueless their leaders are.

Otherwise why would Ghanaians not immediately cotton on to the fact that it is in their own individual self-interest, and in the national interest, that Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom - the only significant political leader in Ghana who is committed to the public publication of assets by politicians and their spouses before elections - becomes Ghana's President, because we have reached a critical juncture in our history when we need to elect a truly transformational leader who knows how to create jobs and wealth: to turn Ghana into a prosperous nation?

And talking about job creation and wealth creation, is it any wonder that ours is a nation in which so many copycat businesses sprout up across the country once a particular business venture becomes a roaring success? Ghana is a global superpower in the art and science of copycat pop-ups.

And people wonder why so many SMEs in Ghana fail to survive their initial years. Invariably no proper planning is done by their promoters - who often fail to  carry out feasibility studies and seldom have bankable business plans. It is all done on a wing and a mega-church-prayer.

It takes the creativity of the Paa Kwesi Nduoms in our midst to create thriving conglomerates, consisting of close to 50 companies operating successfully in different sectors of the national economy, and overseas, in such a conformist society.

The question is: In light of all the above, should we be surprised that it seems so hard for many in Ghana to do the lateral thinking needed, to see how Facebook and Blockchain Technologies Incorporated, could work with the National Identification Authority (NIA), the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC), and all the political parties in our country, to create a cutting-edge 21st century national identification system, and compile a fraud-proof electoral register for our nation?

It has probably never even occurred to Facebook itself before that it could develop a new business model for collaborating with nations like Ghana, to create national digital ecosystems that make it possible for citizens to interact directly with each other (either as individuals or in community groupings),  and with state agencies and entities, in real time - and vice versa.

And with blockchain technology all that would be fraud-free and tamper-proof. Facebook's artificial intelligence facial recognition software would underpin both the national ID system (containing individuals'digital bio-data-files) and the database of the EC voters register. Facebook would bear the cost of  the whole package - in exchange for access to the relevant data it agrees in advance with Ghana that it can leverage, for its social media platform.

Actually, this is not as whacky an idea as it sounds. That is why this blog urges our nation's political parties and the EC to give it a thought. No other public private partnership (PPP) could deliver such complex, comprehensive and secure systems within the timeframe-window available to the EC before polling day.

After all, Facebook handles hundreds of millions of  "transactions" daily, does it not - so creating a database for the EC and NIA, containing individual digital ID bio-data-files for a mere 30 million citizens of the Republic of Ghana, using its artificial intelligence facial recognition software, won't be a problem for the social media behemoth.

Facebook has the capability and technology that Ghana can leverage, to create a national ID system and compile a new voters register fit for the digital age, which will be ready in time for the November presidential and parliamentary elections.

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