Professor Ken Agyemang Attafuah, the newly appointed National Identification Authority (NIA) Chief Executive yesterday gave the assurance that he will provide first class biometric identification cards to Ghanaians.
Although the NIA is currently facing logistical constraints, Prof. Attafuah, believed the challenges were not unsurmountable.
Speaking to The Ghanaian Times in an interview in Accra yesterday, the NIA boss said he was working towards the realisation of his mandate to coordinate and supervise the registration and issuance of national identification cards to the over 27 million population within a year.
“At the weekend, work begun in earnest at the Authority to fix faulty elevators, water and sewage systems, faulty air conditioners, and other office equipment,” he said.
Prof. Attafuah said the Office of the President convened a meeting two weeks ago, comprising Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), National Information Technology Authority (NITA), Death and Birth Registry, National Health Insurance Authority, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the Electoral Commission (EC) to solicit their input on the forward of the biometric registration.
Prof. Attafuah said technical committees including legal and finance were also constituted to advise the government whether to continue the existing national identification registration or start anew.
The technical committees, which are to report their findings to the Office of the Vice President on February 17, are expected, among others, to determine clear cut parameters to ensure greater efficiency and harmonisation of the identification process.
Asked how much it would cost the country, if the process starts afresh, Prof. Attafuah, who is also a senior law lecturer at the Central University College, said the issue of cost would be determined after the technical committees submitted their report to the Office of the Vice President.
The NIA was set up in 2003 under the Office of the President with the mandate to issue national ID cards and manage the National Identification System (NIS).
This resulted in the passing of the National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707) to give it the necessary legal backing on which to operate.
The National Identity Register Act, 2008 (Act 750) was also passed to give authorisation for collection of personal biometric data and to ensure the protection of privacy and personal information of enrollees.
Registration of Ghanaians for the biometric cards started some 14 years ago and stalled along the line. Out of the 25 million cards expected to be issued, only a handful were distributed.
The need for the government to reliably identify citizens is among other things to ensure public safety, issue welfare benefits and control immigration and also help with national planning.
The absence of a reliable means of national identification has created problems for the administration and management of resources in the country.
A national identification system will help address national security matters, credit information, and revenue collection, acquisition of passport and driver’s license, as well as registration of voters.
Other public service delivery and human development activities such as registration of births, deaths and marriages, social security and the national health insurance system will be addressed by a comprehensive identification system.
It is also believed that the national identification authority will provide up-to-date data that will form a sound base for policy formulation and implementation, which will put people’s rights and responsibilities at the care of the country’s development.
By Malik Sullemana