The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has reported a growth in import revenue of 3.9% as a result of its new paperless port clearing system.

Data from the authority’s customs division show that import revenue increased from C12.7bn in 2017 to C13.2bn in 2018.

According to the GRA this revenue growth can “largely be attributed to implementation of the paperless port system at the country’s sea ports by government”.

The paperless port system was implemented at Ghana’s main ports in September 2017 by the GRA together with GCNET and West Blue Consulting, following a pilot.

It means the import process flow is now done via an online system, which captures all relevant import information on a database. Traders can obtain required import licences, permits and certificates before arrival of goods as well as pay fees and charges, among other things. It also involves a risk clearance system that determines selectivity of transactions, granting automatic customs release without scanning or physical examination.

Speaking to local media, Joseph Amoah, Ghana Shippers’ council committee chairman of the Ashanti region, said the new system has allowed shippers to clear their goods in a matter of four hours, down from what used to take a week or more.

In recent months, the Ghanaian government has also rolled out other interventions within the maritime sector, according to the GRA. These include a reduction in the number of inspection agencies at the port and the scrapping of barriers along trade corridors.

Specifically, port inspection agencies have been reduced from 16 to three (GRA’s customs division, GSA and FDA) to reduce clearing time and ensure efficient revenue collection. This has resulted in a 24% increase of government collections.

Ghana has also seen its corruption ranking score improve in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2018, with the country jumping to rank 78 of 180 countries, an improvement of 40 ranks. The annual index, published in January, ranks countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople.

According to Transparency International, the paperless port clearing system “played a part in the country’s improved ranking”.