Ghana has for years remained a key exporter of timber. However, stakeholders have been struggling to deal with illegal felling of trees, which made timber exports from Ghana fall short of the European Union’s guidelines.
In a bid to address the worrying situation and also improve revenue mobilization, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission have launched the digitalized property mark registration and renewal process and the Ghana electronic wood tracking system.
With the introduction of the new digitalized system which has been developed by staff of the Lands Commission, the regulators are hopeful that this challenge would be addressed.
The digitalised system is primarily aimed at flushing out illegally harvested timber.
The Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources believe this will also significantly help in revenue generation since various loopholes would be blocked.
Speaking at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu Municipality of the Ashanti Region where the initiative was launched, the sector minister, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor noted that it will also contribute in making Ghana meet set global standards.
“We are aware that one of the factors that have affected the country’s performance on the international timber market is lack of technology. Over the past few years, Ghana’s response to the European Union’s forest law enforcement, governance and trade initiative, trade only in legal timber. With one such strategic move that positions the country to remain relevant on the market, that has been set on the path of change for almost two decades now. This initiative will form the basis of the voluntary partnership agreement with Ghana as being the subject of discussion at various sessions of the Ghana-EU political dialogue. I am happy to note that the completion of this technological infrastructure, brings us closer to concluding this aspect of the dialogue with the EU”.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey on his part, stressed that the new system lessens the burden of players as the registration which used to take about two months can now take only a day.
“Averagely, information from the industry indicates that it takes about two months to go through the previous process. With this new application that we have launched, it would be possible to renew this property mark in a day at one district of your choice if you present all the relevant documents”.
Timber operators have welcomed the initiative and have called on the relevant authorities to institute measures to address challenges that may arise, particularly with respect to system downtime.
“The introduction of this innovative platform is a good indication of how collaboration with the Forestry Commission to address business challenges of the industry is beginning to yield dividends. While congratulating the commission in taking this step, we would like to encourage you to be mindful of the usual problems that come with switching to a technology environment such as system downtimes and customer experience issues,” president of the Forestry Association of Ghana, Richard Nsenkyire stated.
“It is the hope of industry that the electronic wood tracking system has come to remove all the challenges associated with the documentation of timber harvesting and timber product transportation. Ghana Timber Millers Organization recognizes the fact that any new system is likely to have initial implementation challenges.”
“We are more than ready to support the commission to address these problems so that we can all enjoy the potential benefits of the electronic wood tracking system,” Dr. Kwame Adam made this statement on behalf of executives and members of Ghana Timber Millers Organization during the launch.