National harmonised ID system to be deployed

All national identification databases will be hamonised and deployed under one big national platform, before the end of the year, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister-designate for Communication has disclosed.

She said the linkage of the various databases from organisations such as the security agencies, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), the National Communication Authority (NCA) and the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Authority among others would help maximise tax collection, reduce crime and create a degree of certainty in information verification.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful made this known at her vetting before the Appointment Committee of Parliament yesterday.
She said it has become imperative to unite the databases and remove all duplications by cleaning them up since the current system was become counter-productive to the needs of the nation.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said the World Bank has already allocated a loan facility of 25 million dollars while additional funds would be sourced to complement the budget for the project.

She said the National Data Centre which has the facility to host such a national database centre has been earmarked to become the warehouse so that by the end of the year, there would be a drastic cut-down on multiplicity of data in the country.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said the migration on every television set in the country onto a digital platform in September this year would be delayed as a result of few challenges being faced by the operator.

She explained that, though the deadline for the migration had been set at 2020 globally, Ghana’s option to migrate before that deadline had already seen two postponements.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful, was however optimistic that Ghana would eventually migrate before the deadline after a financial solution as how to power the network had been found.

She said the deployment needed to be extended to also create an inclusive programme for the vulnerable groups in society, especially, the poor by providing digital boxes for them to have access to the television networks with their analog television sets.

The Minister-designate said as a result of the exigency of the situation it has become imperative to suspend the implementation in September to ensure that measures were put in place for its sustainability.

She said by the end of the year, the ministry would complement the fibre layout infrastructure on the Eastern Corridor with a Western one to cover the oil and gas enclave with the ultimate target of covering the entire country with a fibre-loop.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful gave the assurance that she would work assiduously to ensure that the departments and agencies under the ministry were supported to meet their corporate mandate in order to become financially sound.

She lamented the situation where about 400 million dollars was invested to establish National Information Technology Agency (NITA), yet when that agency kick-stated their operations of delivering internet service to the ministries, departments and agencies, most have not honoured their indebtness creating a fragile financial situation for the agency.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful brought smiles to the faces of some of the committee members, when she confessed in a humble manner that, she had departed from being outspoken against his political opponents after learning to become diplomatic in her approach in recent times.

She drew hearty laughter from the members when she sought the chairman’s endorsement for her new character trait which according to her had been  on display during the vetting.

By Lawrence Markwei

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