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Dogs to support increased revenue for Ghana

08.06.2018  15:52
Enhancing and expanding the national border patrols with canine units has become a priority for the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). Danida has recently supported the GRA with fully equipped canine unit to support the Customs Division as a source of increased domestic revenue.

Dogs at the National Dog Academy are trained to sniff out specific drugs – others include cannabis, cocaine and ‘speed ball’.

Service dogs might be a rare sight in Ghana, however that is about to change. In Accra lies the training facility for canine units, dubbed the ‘National Dog Academy’ by its staff. It is Ghana’s only facility offering training for the canine units for various government authorities. One of the being the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Danida has supported the GRA by donating nine dogs and their training – effectively forming a canine unit - to the Dog Academy, who will facilitate the training of GRA staff and the dogs. The purpose of the training is for the dogs to specialize in rummaging of vehicles, identifying contraband goods on persons and packages as well as general patrol duties. All aimed at increasing domestic revenue and protection Ghana’s borders from illicit flows of commodities, currencies and narcotics.

Training of the dogs and handlers are done in special rooms, where an object is put in one of many holes. Neither dog nor handler knows in where the small amount drug, currency or explosive is kept, but are trained to cooperate in order to find it.

“The provision of this unit is expected to boost the capacity of the various units under the customs department in carrying out their functions. It is our hope that the capacity we build within the GRA will enable this institution to better protect Ghana’s borders, guard revenue coffers and strengthen capacity to deliver on meeting their revenue targets,” says Peter Eilschow Olesen, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Denmark.

Progressive expansion of canine units
The dogs are specialized and trained to carry out tasks involving detection of narcotics, explosives and armaments, large quantities of currency and even human trafficking. The National Dog Academy currently has 14 trainers and 9 dogs specializing as canine units for various government authorities. Capacity at the academy is, however, for up to 40 trainees and dogs.

“We are progressing now and experiencing a larger interest in getting canine units. We are even hoping to expand our training to include the private sectors’ protection needs,” said the Executive Secretary of NACOB, Provost Marshall Commey, who is running the Dog Academy.

Shredded currency is used to train dogs in sniffing out even the smallest amount of currency. This hinders illicit flows of money in and out of Ghana.

Part of broader agenda of increased domestic revenue
Increasing the domestic revenue is high on the agenda for the Embassy of Denmark, as the cooperation between Denmark and Ghana is moving from aid to trade. Supporting the GRA is done “to fund the visions of this government’s rapid industrialization, faster growth, job creation, economic prosperity, while at the same time marking the gradual transition from aid to trade,” said Deputy Peter Eilschow Olesen.

Danida donated the new canine unit along with 15 vehicles in May as part of a longstanding cooperation with the GRA.