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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Columnist: Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako

How government can use ECG and NIA databases to send coronavirus mobile money to needy households

As an example, if ECG database for say Maamobi is exported into Excel (CSV or any format), that will give a certain number of individual accounts that fairly represent each household when you sort it out based on their digital addresses.

The data would have columns for primary account holders’ names and mobile phone numbers. Now you can create additional columns for number and details of people living at each digital address. You can simply use the COUNT formula to count from the NIA database the number of people registered with the same digital address.

You can then use “IF” and other formulas combined to pick the names and phone numbers of all persons registered by the NIA with the same digital address and paste them in separate columns against the primary ECG account holder that match that digital address.

You can then populate the rest of your adapted ECG database. You can use any other parameters to rank the level of need of each household if you want to.

This will take only a few hours to do, even with my limited skills in the use of Excel Macros.

Once you have this base document, you can do two things:

1. Due to the urgency of the situation, you can just pay a certain minimum amount to each household, based on the number of persons living at that digital address, via mobile money, working with the Telcos. For homeless people, you can aggregate them under the Gender Ministry Household. Since the Ministry has already documented Kayayes and the rest of them, they have all the phone numbers of these individuals. So make one bulk mobile money transfer to the Gender Minister and the Ministry can make onward transfers to the registered individuals.

2. You can also upload the base data onto an online portal, and ask people in each community who need help from the government to visit the portal, locate their names and check a box. Make it known that the list of those who receive help would be subsequently published for transparency and accountability. That way, only those who really need help will take advantage of it.

Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako, Accra

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