As one of the "lions of Africa," Ghana has seen remarkable economic growth in the past few years. Its government recognizes the need to build an infrastructure in which the economy can flourish, and inward migration, from business investment to tourism, was singled out as a vital component.
An eImmigration system, which harnesses powerful information-management technology such as electronic visas and biometrics, will play a major role in this development.
In 2012, the World Bank supplied the Ghana Immigration Service with funding to develop a modern infrastructure for the country as it moved into a more robust and technologically advanced future. The Ghanaian government had four main goals at the outset of this process.
First, it sought to implement standardized registration, approval and issuing procedures for all visas and permits, completely supported by information technology. Second, it intended to set up a state-of-the-art countrywide border-control system for headquarters, regional offices, land borders, sea borders and airports.
Third, the deployment of 10 eGates at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, allowed for automated border control for registered Ghanaian citizens and frequent foreign travelers. Finally, the government made eServices for all types of visas and permits available through a web portal.
"The project will engender confidence among the traveling public and investors that Ghana is a safe place in which both investment and tourism can thrive," says Michel Viano, Consortium Project Director, Ghana eImmigration, at Gemalto. "The services provided through this eImmigration project will create a secure environment for the digital economy, with more efficient storage of data usable for policy, research and business development. This technology will create a demand for digital platforms, which will create jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities."
Toward the future
Ghana is establishing its first national migration policy, which is being devised in line with the latest technology available. It has to be capable of meeting a demand that has grown steadily over the past few years. Advanced security technology helps citizens feel reassured and supported rather than monitored and controlled. It gives space to human development and promotes inward investment through a modernized infrastructure.
At the core of the eImmigration system is the traveler population register. This is secured by an automated fingerprint-identification system, which adds new travelers to the register and automatically identifies those who have been through before. The use of biometrics allows the system to manage travelers more effectively, and will help the Ghana Immigration Service to offer a trusted and convenient process to all those who cross the country's borders.
Investment in this kind of technology can transform countries and inspire economic growth. Integrating mobile devices and modern computer systems into working life is important, but security technology also has a crucial role to play in bringing about positive change.
The success of Ghana's eImmigration system, which is based on Gemalto's Coesys Border and Visa Management Solution, isn't just being recognized locally. Analyst Frost & Sullivan awarded Gemalto its 2014 Customer Value Leadership Award for Border Control and Biometrics, citing the company's excellence in customer value and implementation.
Frost & Sullivan says the global border control and biometric market is expected to grow at a constant compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 per cent from 2012 to 2021, to reach a value of US$15 billion in 2021.