The Chief Executive Officer of Vokacom, the company that developed the digital address system, has dismissed claims that government will pay an annual subscription fee of $400,000 to Google for deploying the service on its platform.
According to Nana Osei Afrifa, the said amount is rather a part of the contract sum the government paid to Vokacom out of which the $400,000 is to be used to pay licensing fees to companies including Google.
This appears to be a deviation from suggestions made last Friday by Managing Director of Ghana Post, James Yalley Kwofie.
He was reported as saying that Ghana will pay close to $400,000 to the multinational technology company each year as a license fee.
The government has stated that it spent a total of $2.5million on the digital address system which was launched this month.
Giving a breakdown of the amount spent on the system Mr. Kwofie said: “In terms of the cost, what is being paid for is the back-end solution, data analytics, hardware i.e. the firewalls and servers, Google license, marketing and publicity as well as technical support, and GHc1.7 million VAT which goes back to the government."
“Contrary to popular belief, Google charges when you use their systems for local purposes or commercial activities. The Google license fee at the moment is $400,000 per year – that is the enterprise package,” he added.
But speaking Monday on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Nana Osei Afrifa said the licensing fee will be paid only for one year, providing a hint about ongoing discussions with Google to continue to provide the service at minimal or no extra cost to the state.
“I can assure you and with authority that we are not going to pay Google about $400,000 every year; this is only for this year,” Nana Osei Afrifa told the host, Kojo Yankson.
He added: “There is increasingly high a probability that there will be no cost going beyond the first year.”
Nana Osei conceded there already exists software applications performing similar functions but defended that, the software developed by Vokacom, has other enhanced benefits the state can tap into.
“The platform addresses the entire nation in a 5 x 5 meters square…so we went ahead as part of our proposal and said we will add an app as well,” he stated.
US-based Ghanaian IT expert, Kingsley Komla Elikem Mortey, who contributed to the discussion via telephone, maintained the system deployed by Vokacom has some limitations that ought to be fixed for it to be fully functional.
“This digital address that we have already existed; what we should be doing is taking what we have already and taking a step further,” Mr. Mortey argued.
Responding to the criticism however, Nana Osei Afrifa said they relied on “things within our environment to develop this platform.”
“What many of them [critics] are failing to recognise is that we’ve made it easy…it’s not easy to memorise a WhatsApp address. We have assigned easier already existing codes and made it available to everybody,” he explained.