July 2, 2020, I drove past the community 4 police station at Lakeside estate that was used as a voters registration centre. I observed not less than 200 people, crowded in a small area, in a back to back queue. Most seemed to have their nose masks on but social distancing was clearly not observed.
About 20 minutes drive from the centre, news of a resident likely to have the novel coronavirus spread. Then I started to consider more convenient ways this exercise could have been conducted with a focus on reducing the spread of coronavirus as much as possible.
Online betting companies in Ghana have championed the possibilities that can be
achieved through USSD. Their system allows them to collect all kinds of customer information.
Name, Date of Birth, ID number can all be collected from any person who has access to a mobile phone, no internet needed.
These betting companies focus on how to provide a service that makes it so easy for potential customers to register and use their service. They provide this system also to broaden consumer scope and not limit themselves to customers who have smartphones and internet access.
The EC can adopt a similar model and provide its customers (Ghanaian citizens) a short code through which they can register. Anyone with a mobile phone, including ‘yam’ can register, no internet needed. The EC can through USSD collect all vital information required, even that of a guarantor.
Fortunately, the registration forms are available for download. The EC can provide an email or submission portal where all completed forms, Identification documents, can be uploaded or emailed.
Applicants after submitting their details can check the status of their application to see if their registration was successful. Users will find out during validation if any information is required or missing.
Capturing biometrics using appointment system
After validation, the registrant can pick a date to visit the centre using an appointment system to have their biometrics captured and present a guarantor where necessary.
Customer support via phone, e-mail, chat and video
With so many communication channels available today, the EC can set up a support centre where all questions can be directed and their agents can help people complete registration using any of the channels.
The government of Ghana, government institutions, public institutions, should have convenience as their first priority for customer service. With convenience as focus, innovation is never lacking.
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