EVALUATING THE AUTOMATED CLEARING SYSTEM AT GHANA’S PORT: IT’S IMPACT ON EXPORT AND IMPORT

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ABSTRACT

Ghana has one of the most important ports in the West African sub-region. Its contributions cannot be overemphasized. The ports have become a major contributor to Ghana’s economy. Given that Ghana’s goal is to become the gateway to West-Africa, port services and processes will need to satisfy the needs of custom-ers, businesses, importers and exporters. In 2002, Ghana introduced the port auto-mation in Tema port as a mechanism to ensure efficiency and a paperless system.

The purpose of the study was therefore to examine the automated clearing system at Tema port in Ghana and assess its impact on cargo clearing. This research will addressed the problems and found out the challenges related to the custom clear-ance operations, as well as suggested possible solutions to reducing these problems to improve the services at the ports.

The case study design based on the quantitative research approach was relied on for this research. It was found out that a well-established system of cargo clearing was put in place and widely advocated to all the stakeholders involved in the in-dustry. However, it was also discovered that port automation has had a minimal impact on the duration of cargo clearing cargo because of the constant demands for hardcopies of documents already submitted online.


It is therefore recommended that there should be a mechanism put in place which will not require the various stakeholders to submit hard copies of documents that have already been submitted electronically at the port. The study also recommends various stakeholders such as CEPS and other regulatory agencies with regards to port operations and custom clearance procedures to be given the necessary orientation about procedures involved in clearing goods at the port.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
           
ABSTRACT
1 INTRODUCTION
            1.1 Research Problem
            1.2 Research Objectives and Questions
            1.3 Significance and Limitations of the Study
            1.4 Structure of the Study

2   PORT OPERATIONS AND CUSTOM PRACTICES
            2.1 Background study of Tema Port
            2.2 Port Development
            2.3 Port Development and Customs Practices in Ghana
            2.4 Importance of Ports to the development of the Economy
            2.5 Legal Structure of Port Operations and Customs Practices
            2.6 Legal Structure of Port Operations in Ghana
            2.7 Custom Practices and Port Clearing Procedures at Ghana Ports
            2.8 Challenges of Port Operations and Customs Practices in Ghana
            2.9 Port Automation and ICT
            2.10 Ghana Community Network Services Limited and Paperless System
                        2.10.1 Objectives of the GCNET
                        2.10.2 Ghana’s Paperless System

3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
            3.1 Research Design
                        3.1.1 Quantitative Research Design
                        3.1.2 Qualitative Research Design
            3.2 Population
                        3.2.1 Target Population
                        3.2.2 Accessible Population
            3.3 Sample and Sampling Procedure
            3.4 Sources of Data
                        3.4.1    Interviews
3.4.2    Questionnaires
3.5       Method of Data Analysis
3.6       Reliability and Validity

4          PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSIONS OF FINDINGS
4.1       Cargo Clearing Process
4.1.1    The Import Clearing Process
4.1.2    The Export Clearing Process
4.2       Challenges in Cargo Clearing Procedures at Tema Port
4.3       Impact of Port Automation on Cargo Clearing at Tema Port

5          SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1       Summary of Findings
5.2       Recommendations
5.3       Conclusion
REFERENCES
APPENDICES


1    INTRODUCTION


Ghana's ports play a major role in the economic growth of the country, with Tema port being one of the biggest ports in Ghana and handling about 80 percent of the country's national and exports and import. Of course one cannot dispute the fact that Ghana is dependent on trade because of the low cost of sea transport. According to the sector report on port development Ghana, 2014 Ghana has benefited from an increase in cargo inflow due to the political turmoil in Cote d'Ivoire (de Jong and Baas 2015). Despite the competition in regional seaports, Ghana ports offer investment opportunities. Really it is time for Ghana's ports to take the initiative of delivering better service to importers and exporters.

Ports play a very crucial role when it comes to international trade serving as logistics platform. They usually serve as points of loading and unloading international trade goods such as consumables, vehicles, and equipment. (Nsiah 2014). In Ghana the Tema Harbour is one of the most efficient ports in the shipping industry without which Ghana's economy will go into nose-dive and make the country to feel the negative impact of private enterprises. (Tawiah and Francis 2006). Although Ghana is blessed with two major big seaports, most imports destined for the second port are cleared at the Tema port. More as serving as a loading and unloading point, the port has generally become a major transshipment point for import for neighboring countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. Richard Anamoo (2016) the director general of GPHA, described the ports as a safer place to do business, as prior to his comments most Ghanaians have described the clearing process at the port as unattractive.

The USAID deliver project report (2009) mentioned that the custom clearance processes are mostly controlled by country governments which change over time and can sometimes be difficult. Although there are policies, tools, and practices that facilitate these processes, yet reports from business owners, importers and exporters mention complex customs clearance which affects the process. Of course, failure by importers and exporters to acquaint themselves with these custom procedures can cause delays in delivery. According to the USAID West Africa trade hub technical report (2010), Tema port is a major bottleneck on the import side where more than half of the traditional delay occurs during the port and custom clearance processes. On the other hand, export attracts less attention because few tax and duties are paid hence customs intervention is less needed.

Port clearance and customs operations in Ghana are faced with many challenges, which have prevented the ports, companies, and agencies from functioning smoothly (Asuliwonno 2011). Delays when clearing goods, bribery, and corruption have been some of the main hindrances of the port in providing better services to its customers. These practices have stained the image of the management at the ports, making it difficult to reach its goal of fighting corruption. Due to these factors challenging the port operations, management of the port through the government of Ghana undertook a number of policies and actions. To ensure efficiency the port restructured the customs operations in 1990 to meet international standards and thereby implementing the automated system (CEPS 2004). At the same time, the electronic data interchange was introduced, its function was to help integrate the ICT into the port's operations (CEPS 2004).

Port clearing in Ghana requires a lot of paperwork and thus requiring one to go through many processes. The port authority are responsible for the physical custody and handling of goods as they make their transition from the vessel to the temporary storage until they are delivered to the owner. (USAID deliver report 2009). In 2001 and 2002, the management of the port embarked on the gateway project to compare Ghana’s ports to the ports worldwide (Asuliwonno 2011). This project includes the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNET), which enables stakeholders to share data and information among themselves. The study seeks to analyze the port clearing process, its effectiveness as well unattractive proceedings importers and exporters encounter on daily basis.

1.1    Research Problem
The objective of the study is to assess the automated clearing system at Ghana ports with a case of the Tema port. This research will address the problems and find out....

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