Premix Fuel Automation System is here to ensure equity, transparency in product distribution

‘We were initially scared and reluctant to accept the National Premix Fuel Automation System project because we believe there is no alternative to our ancient method,’ Mr Kwamena Badu, the Chief Fisherman of Elmina, has said.
‘But we were filled with joy when we tried the piloted automation project site at Nungua in the Greater Accra Region using our cards. It worked so perfectly without any hassle. No middlemen and the slip-up often associated with premix fuel supply and distributions was far off.’
He gave the account at a colourful ceremony to commission the National Premix Fuel Automation System (NPFAS) at Elmina in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem Municipality of the Central Region on Tuesday.
The full automation of the supply and distribution of premix fuel has been on the table of previous governments, but financial constraints, among others, slowed the process.
The system was introduced in 1994 with the sole objective of powering outboard engines and helping artisanal fishermen to increase their catch.
Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development
Subsequently, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in 2021 initiated processes to digitise the supply and distribution of premix fuel to fishermen.
It was a measure to reduce the incidence of diversion and hoarding. The full digitalisation started with a public-private partnership with Fuel Automation Ghana Limited.
The automation is anticipated to complement existing strategies to address the challenges associated with the allocation, distribution, and sale of premix fuel and canoe identification system.
Premix fuel is a subsidised petroleum product central to artisanal fishers in the marine and inland fisheries sector to power their outboard motors for fishing expeditions.
Hoarding and smuggling
Smuggling, diversion, hoarding, shortages and politicisation have been the major setbacks to the supply and distribution of premix fuel in Ghana since 1994.
Statistics from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) showed that premix consumption between 2018 and 2022 was 392 million litres supplied to 300 landing beaches across the country.
The worrying trend was that diversion, smuggling, hoarding and politicisation of the distribution led to shortages of the product on the market.
Stakeholders, therefore, thought it wise to fully automate the supply and distribution of the product as the best solution to address these challenges.
Fuel Automation Ghana Limited
The Fuel Automation Ghana Limited, in coordination with its technical partners, identified the bottlenecks in the value chain of premix fuel supply and distribution and proposed technological solutions to the problems associated with the ecosystem and submitted its proposal to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.
After due process under the Procurement Act, the Ministry engaged the services of the company and its technical partners to develop and build Landing Beach Fuel Outlets and Automation Solutions for 300 landing beaches across the country under a Public-Private Partnership of Design, Build, Operate and Transfer.
Fishers’ Commendation
On behalf of fishers, Mr Badu lauded the Government, represented by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who commissioned the project, for leveraging technology such as digitisation and the automation of institutions to systematically deal with the myriad of challenges in the fisheries sector.
‘The move will not only enhance transparency and accountability but also improve the efficiency of many government agencies in terms of service delivery and the prevention and elimination of corruption,’ he said.
The intervention gave credence to the Government’s strong anti-corruption stance to partner with both state and non-state organisations to build the nation on a solid foundation of ethics and integrity.
Vice President Bawumia
The Vice President said the move would ensure equity, transparency, and accountability with premix fuel dispensing and monitoring systems, taking its management to the next level.
‘It is a groundbreaking project that promises to transform the supply and distribution of premix fuel in Ghana. It will revolutionise the operations of fisher folk and boost the sector’s overall productivity,’ he said.
‘The system represents a major leap forward in the Government’s commitment to enhancing efficiency and transparency in the premix fuel supply chain.’
Cutting-edge Technology
Built with cutting-edge technology, the facility comes with dispensing control units, fuel level sensors, card utilisation systems for authorisation and access, and web and mobile applications for monitoring and generating reports.
This comprehensive infrastructure ensures efficient tracking, transparent transactions, and accurate data collection, providing a strong foundation for the optimisation of the distribution of the product.
By implementing this advanced technology, Dr Bawumia said: ‘We are effectively removing the loopholes that unscrupulous individuals have exploited in the past, thus promoting fairness, accountability, and sustainability.’
‘The premix fuel automation project represents a significant step forward in our commitment to creating a level playing field for all stakeholders involved in the fishing industry.’
Canoe Identification Cards
Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said fishermen would be required to use canoe identification cards to buy the product after their cards were credited with the subsidy amount.
This is hinged on eradicating hoarding, which has been a persistent challenge in the premix fuel supply chain.
‘Hoarding not only creates artificial scarcity but also drives up prices, placing an unfair burden on our hardworking fisher folk,’ she said.
The Government has, thus, taken decisive action to ensure that the product reaches its intended recipients promptly and without undue delay.
Tracking Products
The mechanisation has eased the process of tracking products received and dispensed, safe fuelling and refuelling processes, equity in fuel disbursement, receipt printouts, and fuel reconciliation.
It consists of dispensing control units, fuel level sensors for monitoring fuel levels, a card utilisation system for authorisation as well as a web and mobile application for monitoring, control, and generation of reports.
The Fishermen Management Module will have a database of all fishermen and their respective fleets to handle fuel allocations assigned to each one through the Canoe Identification Card.
Fuelling transactions made at the Landing Beach Fuel Outlet will be recorded and transmitted both at the site level, and central location to top up the balance through different physical and e-payment methods.
Out-of-date Method
Before the automation, basic methods such as buckets and ‘jerrycans’ were used to deliver fuel to the fishermen.
That caused breaches in safe fuel handling procedures, an arbitrary method of distribution, and poor volume accountability.
Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, the Central Regional Minister, said the digitisation of the supply and distribution was the surest way to reduce the incidence of diversion and hoarding, among others.
Even though the fisheries sector contributes immensely to national development, the industry has witnessed some dwindling fortunes in the fish stock over the years.
The national fish stock had declined from 500,000 tonnes in 2010 to 200,000 tonnes in 2015.
This is due to the use of unorthodox methods such as monofilament nets, undersized nets, dynamite, and poisonous chemicals by fishermen, resulting in the 300,000 reductions in fish stock.
It is important to scale up the implementation of the ‘ICT for Sustainable Fishing’ initiative to bring on board as many fishermen as possible. This calls for deliberate efforts by the Government and stakeholders in the fishing industry to achieve the desired results.

Source: Ghana News Agency