Abena Antwi writes: Diary of a grateful citizen

Ghana Card 1.png Ghana card

Mon, 26 Apr 2021 Source: Abena Antwi


Anytime you hold your Ghana card, you should feel a new sense of pride and identity! You are part of a big success story!

Ghana has successfully rolled out the National Identification System!  As at now, over 15 million Ghanaians have been registered.  We should be proud of this achievement because it represents the foundation to formalizing our economy. While this does not guarantee immediate social and economic transformation, it is an important step.


Attempts at implementing a National ID system in Ghana started more than 40 years ago. The conversation was important then and is important now because our country’s high informal economy poses challenges such as low revenue mobilization and lack of adequate information for policy making and planning.  Talk of low revenues, in 2018 our tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 14.8% while the average for Africa was 16.5%.  The world economy admits that such challenges associated with high informal economies lead to higher levels of poverty.


The OECD reports that 2 billion of the world’s working population constitute 61% working in the informal economy. Emerging and developing economies have a greater share of the informal economy at 67.4% compared with 18.3% in the developed economy. Africa has a huge share of 85.8% while 89.2% is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Asia and the Pacific follow closely with a rate of 68.2% while the Arab States have the third largest informal economy with 68%.


While the above statistics for Africa is dire, the government has taken the BOLD step to formalize Ghana’s economy through the National Identification System. It is leveraging this important national strategic asset to among other things, increase tax revenues by converting National ID numbers to Tax Identification Numbers. This immediately increases the pool of potential taxpayers from 750,000 to over 15 million.

Revenue from property taxes can improve since the new digital addressing system will link up to the National ID system. In addition to the many benefits, it is highly probable that 'ghosts' in Ghana cannot claim SSNIT benefits anymore. If one dies, the Death Registry can automatically flag this in the integrated system and SSNIT can pick this up. There are many more possibilities leveraging this national ID platform across banks, mobile money operators and other agencies. We expect that the benefits will be harnessed to improve the lot of the Ghanaian.


Kudos to the Government! The National Identification System has come to stay. To tap fully into this success, more work needs to be done so that this becomes not an end, but a means to an end. We look to the future with hope!

Columnist: Abena Antwi