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The $2.5million paid by the government of Ghana to local IT firm Vokacom for the development of the GhanaPost GPS digital addressing application, was the lowest bid amongst the lot, Minister of Communication Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said.
“… Mind you, that was the lowest valuated bid,” she told Moro Awudu on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Monday, 30 October, adding: “Somebody was going to charge us over GHS100 million to develop the same application. …This is what we asked for and this is what we got.”
Meanwhile, she has also clarified that the government of Ghana has no agreement whatsoever with Google as far as the use of the application is concerned, for which reason the Akufo-Addo administration has to fork out $400,000 per year to the tech giant.
“Ghana government isn’t paying Google any money for anything, so, I don’t know where that is coming from. And it would help if people took their time to interrogate issues before they run with falsehoods and poison the atmosphere,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said in response to IT critics such as US-based Ghanaian researcher Kingsley Kormla Elikem, who has raised questions about the said payment to the tech giant.
The payment issue first came up on Friday, 27 October when the Managing Director of GhanaPost GPS, James Kwofie gave the media a breakdown of the $2.5million cost of the app at a press conference.
“In terms of the cost, what is being paid for is the back-end solution, data analytics, hardware i.e. the firewalls and servers, Google licence, marketing and publicity as well as technical support, and GHS1.7 million VAT which goes back to the government. Contrary to popular believe, Google charges when you use their systems for local purposes or commercial activities. The Google licence fee at the moment is $400,000 per year – that is the enterprise package,” he added.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, however, told Moro Awudu that the breakdown of the cost has been misinterpreted.
“We are paying GHS 9.9 million for developing this application,” she stressed, explaining that: “That is what Ghana is paying to be licensed to use this application – Ghana Post GPS – from Vokacom.”
“People were saying that it is too expensive, so, GhanaPost put out the cost component. It includes VAT, publicity, the cost of licensing, and that’s when this Google thing came up.
“Ghana isn’t paying Google for anything. We are paying the application developer. They introducing this application have to pay for using the Google platform to develop it. That’s their cost, we are not paying Google annually for that. If next year they decide to host their application on another naming platform – and there are several – we will not be talking about the same sum. And we are not paying that amount of money to Google. We don’t have any commercial arrangement with Google,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful emphasised.
She has, therefore, cautioned critics of the app to seek clarifications on issues they do not understand before jumping from one media house to the other to run it down.
“Let’s halt before we demonise a perfectly good product developed by Ghanaians. Please!
“The contract sum is GHS9.9 million which is made up of several components including licensing fees. I don’t know which other organisation they would have to pay licences for. I know they procured security firewalls and all that and they may be paying for the use of those applications, that’s their business.
“We advertised for some service, they told us they would be able to provide that service at GHS9.9 million; that’s the cost to Ghana. So, as far as I know, the so-called IT experts that are running around tearing down this application should please stop; interrogate the issues properly, if you don’t understand something, pick up the phone and ask and you would be given the answers so that you don’t set your own questions and answer it and create the impression that something untoward is happening. Government of Ghana does not have any contractual relationship with Google as of now. We are not paying Google a penny for anything. I hope that clears this out,” she explained.
According to Mr Kormla Elikem, however, “On this matter, the semantics is tricky.”
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