Navigating Digital Payments in Ghana’s Public Sector: A Journey to Better Service Delivery

Kwami Ahiabenu ll
3 min readFeb 29, 2024

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Kwami Ahiabenu

Source Title: Examining the Rapid Advance of Digital Technology in Africa

Copyright: © 2024 |Pages: 21

ISBN13: 9781668499627|ISBN10: 1668499622|EISBN13: 9781668499672

DOI: 10.4018/978–1–6684–9962–7.ch010

Abstract

The adoption of digital payments presents new opportunities for enhancing public sector service delivery. However, little coherent literature exists on the diffusion of public-sector digital payments, including deployment challenges and successes. This chapter reviews the evidence on the evolution of digital payments in Ghana’s public sector. It draws upon stakeholder theory to analyze the diffusion of digital payments for public service delivery in Ghana. This chapter gathered qualitative evidence through expert interviews to map the evolution of public sector digital payments. The findings of this chapter reveal that Ghana’s public sector finances are digititalized, leading to a significant reduction in the use of physical cash. Government entities are empowered to access public finance data in real time, supporting better revenue collection, disbursement, and judicious utilization of financial resources. This chapter highlights the need to improve stakeholder engagement as a prerequisite to ensuring increased usage of public sector digital payments.

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Introduction

This chapter aims to understand the evolution of digital payments in the public sector in Ghana by highlighting critical issues around its deployment, the role of stakeholders, and key implementation challenges. Digital payments for the public sector refer to the use of electronic or digital methods to facilitate the public sector’s financial transactions, revenue collection, and disbursement of funds within government operations. It usually involves transferring money or value from one entity to another, where at least one of the parties is a government entity. For example, digital payments for the public sector can include tax payments, social transfers, salaries, pensions, fees, fines, and procurement payments (The World Bank Group, 2021).

The rollout of digital payments in the public sector can facilitate better fiscal management and enable business growth (The Economist, 2018). Further, digitalizing government payments and receipts can increase tax and non-tax revenue collection without raising tax rates and reduce public sector waste, fraud, corruption, and bribery (Lund et al., 2017). Also, public-sector digital payments can enhance trust between citizens and government while increasing transparency and traceability in public-sector revenue collection (Mtebe & Sausi, 2021). The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for digitalization of public sector service delivery. Ghana, like most countries during the pandemic, increased its rate of digitalization to ensure public service provision did not suffer disruptions by moving a number of services online (Bawole & Langnel, 2023). However, Eggers et al., (2021), in their survey of 800 government officials globally, suggested 80% of governments have accelerated their digital transformation processes, mostly directed at digitalization of front-end services, but not achieved a fundamental transformation of government operations, processes and systems. Klapper & Singer, (2017) reviewed the evidence on the benefits and challenges faced by governments migrating from cash to digital government-to-person (G2P) payments, and their results pointed out that such migration works best within the framework of an appropriate consumer financial protection framework. In assessing the effectiveness of digital payment for public sector services, Rocheleau & Wu, (2005) suggested that there is a gap between the potential of digital payments in the public sector versus reality given that since usage is relatively low, fees charged on electronic payments may have a negative effect on use.

This chapter poses this main research question: how has the public sector digital payment ecosystem evolved over time? Thus, this chapter seeks to critically analyze the evolution of public sector digital payments in Ghana using the descriptive aspects of stakeholder theory based on the case study approach. The chapter elucidates the value of stakeholders’ salience to explain the evolution of Ghana’s public sector digital payments. Given that the public sector digital payments system is an essential public policy issue with a lot of interest, the primary motivation for this work is to fill the gap in the literature. The remainder of this chapter is organised into the following sections: literature review, methodology, an overview of public sector digital payments, history, and implementation challenges. The chapter continues with a discussion section, and the last section concludes this chapter by reflecting on the implications of its main findings and recommendations.

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