CEGA WRITES …………
HON. URSULA OWUSU-EKUFUL MUST COME CLEAN ON THE COST OF THE COVID-19 TRACKER APP– CEGA DEMANDS
The NPP government under President Akufo Addo almost always refers to the Covid –19 pandemic as the cause of the current fragile state of the Ghanaian economy after initially putting the blame on the Mahama administration. But behind this smokescreen, management of funds and facilities earmarked to fight the pandemic could not be properly accounted for.
In April 2020, Ghana launched a Covid 19 tracker App which through the common platform of mobile networks, is able to trace contacts of persons infected by the virus, show where they have been in recent time through various telephone related data and link such people to health professionals for urgent action to be taken. The Minister for Communications, Hon Ursula Owusu-Ekuful had indicated during her appearance before the Appointments Committee of Parliament that the Tracker App was free, meaning government did not spend anything to acquire it.
Contrary to this assertion, a report dubbed Strengthening Covid 19 Accountability Mechanisms (SCAM) has revealed that the Covid 19 Tracker App was awarded to two foreign companies at a cost of $1 million dollars. The companies were iQuent Technologies owned by a 37 year old Anthony Madalairaj Amitharaj which was incorporated in 11th August, 2014 and Ascend Digital Solutions owned by 28 year old Ian Austin registered in Jersey , a tax haven just a month before the contract award.
The two companies both of whom are located in Britain were not legal persons in Ghana at the time of the contract awards and were not registered with the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) and so did not go through tender processes. This raises potential corruption issues. Additional $240,000 was alleged to have been spent to launch the App. The report indicated that the price range for developing such an App ranges between Ghc5,000 and Ghc1m ($855 to $171,000). The value of the tracker appeared to have been inflated by as much as $829,000.
The issues involved are clear.
- In the heat of the Covid -19 pandemic on 13th April, 2020 Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia launched the Covid 19 tracker App touting that Ghana was one of the few countries to deploy such a tracker.
- During her appearance before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, the Communications Minister in answering a question indicated that Ghana did not spend anything to acquire the tracker.
- Contrary to this claim, a corruption risk assessment report authored by Community Development Alliance (CDA-Ghana) and the Commonwealth Foundation, titled Strengthening Covid-19 Accountability Mechanisms (SCAM) however says the Akufo Addo government spent over $1million on the tracker.
- Two British based companies namely iQuent Technologies and Ascend Digital Solutions who were not registered in Ghana at the time were contracted to develop the App.
- The companies did not go through any recognized procurement processes with the Public Procurement Agency (PPA)
- The price range for the Tracker was stated as between $855 and $171,000, inflated by as much as $829,000
There is a huge gap between the claim by the honorable minister and the corruption risk assessment report.
In view of this,
- The CEGA kindly requests the Public Procurement Authority to come out to confirm or deny any knowledge of the deal.
- Since this is a foreign contract, Parliament should indicate whether any request for approval for this contract ever came before honorable members from the Communications Minister.
- CEGA wants to know from the Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful how this contract came about.
Prof. Ohene Adjei
Executive Director 0544445566
Dr. Justice M.K Aheto
Executive Secretary 0242527292
Communications Director 0242161111
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication do not in anyway reflect the opinions of State News Ghana