The Ghana Electronic Wood Tracking System (GWTS), developed for the country’s Forestry Commission (FC) by Axxon Information Systems, has been officially launched and entered into full operation. The launch announcement was made by Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Samuel Abdulai Jinapor at an event in Akyawkrom.
He said the system, which is described as a ‘sub-component of Ghana’s Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS), would contribute to the country meeting ‘global standards’ in timber legality assurance. It would also advance implementation of its FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU.
“We are aware that one factor that has affected the country’s performance in the international timber market is lack of technology,” said Mr Jinapor. “Completion of this technological infrastructure positions Ghana to remain relevant on the market and forms part of the basis of our VPA. Bringing us closer to concluding this aspect of our dialogue on providing assurance of trading only in legal timber with the EU.”
The GWTS, which has been running in development mode for a while, was created with funding from UKAid. It is designed for use by a range of stakeholders, including FC staff, forest managers, mill owners and wood product exporters, with up to 500 users able to access it simultaneously.
FC President John Allotey said it enabled full disclosure of forest management and timber trade information via online dashboards, facilitating establishment of chain of custody for the domestic market and exports. Using the system, he added, any inconsistency in data entry can be rapidly identified, checked and corrected.
Mobile apps allow data capture in remote locations and synchronize data transfer to the GWTS and there are specific software modules tailored to the activities of forest owners, contractors, transport companies, sawmills, wood processing firms and timber traders. FC staff can use the system for on-site capture of field inventory data, log transportation records, log and processed wood stock and timber export information. They can then verify information against a central database.
Mr Jinapor also announced the simultaneous launch of Ghana’s web-based E-Property Mark Registration and Renewal System. Contractors and loggers must renew their ‘property mark’ twice a year to operate and, to date the process has taken an average of two months. “With this new application it can be completed in a day,” said Mr Allotey.
Mr Jinapor said the launch of tracking and e-property mark systems was part of a government agenda to bring digitisation to all aspects of national life. He also stressed government commitment to sustainably manage and develop Ghana’s forests.