The National Identification Authority (NIA) has decided to undertake a fresh registration of all Ghanians under an “expanded registration project”.
The decision by the governing board of the NIA comes six years after the authority began a mass registration exercise, completing it in seven regions and parts of the three northern regions; and card distribution exercises in parts of the Greater Accra Region.
So far, Ghana has spent about GH¢21,621,075 on the mass registration and card distribution exercises.
[contextly_sidebar id=”ivy2rHBuLAm2ekkBdKiYWrMaJP75xrh5″]To implement its plans and make itself self-sufficient, the authority has successfully negotiated a $115 million facility from Exim China, which is awaiting approval by the Cabinet and Parliament.
The NIA would begin a test run by November 1, 2014 on the “expanded registration project,” that would involve the retrieval of a little over one million Ghanacards already issued, and the instant issuance of a smart identification card.
These were contained in an NIA document, made available exclusively to the Daily Graphic, which would be published in full tommorrow (Friday).
The Ministry of Finance’s Public/Private Partnership (PPP) Approval Committee has given approval for the NIA to issue a licence to local and foreign identity management companies to execute the mass registration exercise under a Public/Private Partnership (PPP).
According to the NIA, it was taking advantage of the “burgeoning PPP regime in Ghana, which has become a government policy, to partner with private sector firms to achieve the mandate.”
In May 2012, the NIA in a PPP with Identification Management Systems (IMS), a private company, began a pilot to register foreign nationals resident in the country.
“The PPP experience has been a very positive one for NIA. The project was 100 per cent financed by the private partner,” the NIA stated in the document.
A wasteful venture?
However, experts in the field, who did not want to be named, have criticised the move, claiming that the country had wasted resources, time and money in almost a decade to get a national identification system up and running; with the additional cost of a new venture.
They also raised issues about security, the integrity of a national database and register of Ghanaians, and the final cost to the taxpayer, if a private partner was to be resorted to for the re-registration of Ghanaians.
Some individuals interviewed on the issue were also critical of the NIA; some said they had not received their cards although the authority had registered them some years back, while others complained that the receipts issued to them after the registration to enable them to collect their cards were rejected when they went to the authority on specified dates to collect their cards.
They had to, therefore, go through a fresh registration process.
They cited the initial rationale for the setting up of a National Identification System (NIS), which was to be controlled, managed and administered by the government, because of the sensitive nature of the database and national register.
The experts wondered how the country could maintain the integrity of the data with the involvement of a private business concern.
They gave the example of the Nigeria Identity Management Commission, which was wholly government-led because of the security implications of the database.
However, information from the NIA said the registration exercise would build on what had been done so far.
The NIA said it would port the data collected into a new system, and the applicants would merely update their information to serve the data needs of other governmental user agencies.
Additional fingerprints would be taken of applicants to meet international standards of 10 fingerprints.
Other features of the new exercise would be the issuance of identification cards to applicants right after registering, and the NIA said that would be cheaper and cost-effective.
Experts that the Daily Graphic spoke to said although the NIA was touting the cost-effectiveness of this new effort, there would by all means be a cost to the taxpayer.
The cost of the current exercise was not made known by the NIA. However, the experts wondered how much it would cost the country to port the data to the new system.
They were of the view that PPPs, by their nature, were a partnership between a public agency and a private concern to execute a venture that was initially financed by the private partner, who would later recoup its profits.
They said that ought not to be the way to go for a national register and database of Ghanaians.
Source: Graphic Online