Re: Clear misconceptions, misinformation about the use of Ghana Card
The National Identification Authority (NIA) has read with dismay the Ghanaian Times editorial of Friday, 1st July 2022 captioned above. It is ironic that an editorial advocating clarity, accuracy and truth ends up with misinformation and inaccuracies. Our concerns with the said editorial are many, but we will focus on the five most salient items of misinformation.
Number One: Since the roll-out of the mass registration exercise in April 2019, “a combination of certain factors have delayed some qualified applicants, 16-year-olds and older, to acquire the cards”.
This is inaccurate on two levels. First, the ability of citizens to acquire the Ghana Card has not been delayed by any “combination of factors” except the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. By then, NIA was just one week away from completing the nationwide mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region, even though the lockdown was limited to the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi areas. With caution, courage, dedication and the support and commitment of Government, NIA gallantly forged ahead and completed the mass registration exercise as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic situation abated, observing the personal hygiene and related COVID-19 protocols, and in keeping with the Presidential directive that businesses and other workplaces could continue to operate subject to the observance of the COVID-19 protocols. Nothing else by NIA delayed the ability of Ghanaians willing to acquire the cards from doing so.
The claim is also false in that the population cohort qualified to apply for the Ghana Card during the mass registration exercise was Ghanaians aged 15 years and above, NOT “16-year-olds and older”.
NIA concedes that there were technical challenges in the nature of unreliable internet connectivity, (not systems failure), occasional malfunction or breakdown of some components of the registration kits (Mobile Registration Workstations) and poor worker attitude on the part of some NIA registration officials. NIA denies however that “lack of any law making [hthe acquisition of the Ghana Card] obligatory or non-acquisition an offence” was a contributory factor in qualified Ghanaians being delayed in their drive to acquire the card. We are open to examining the scientific research evidence supporting the contrary claim.
Number Two:“There is no law making the acquisition of the Ghana Card mandatory”.
Section 2(3) of NIA’s enabling statute, the National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707), expressly provides that “National identity cards issued under this Act shall be used in transactions which require identification”. The intention of the law in compelling compliance is unmistakable as it employs the mandatory term “shall” to designate the transactions for which the use of the Ghana Card is compulsory. The mandatory transactions have been outlined in Regulation 7(1) of the National Identity Register Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2111). For the avoidance of doubt, the relevant portions of the Regulations are reproduced as follows:
“Mandatory use of national identity card
7. (1) A national identity card issued to an individual shall be used for the following transactions where identification is required:
- application for and issuance of a passport;
- application for and issuance of a driver’s license;
- opening of individual or personal bank accounts;
- purchase of insurance policies;
- purchase, transfer and registration of land by an individual or a connected transaction subject to provisions of other enactments
- transactions pertaining to individuals in respect of pensions;
- transactions specified under the National Health Insurance Scheme;
- transactions that have social security implications;
- consumer credit transactions;
- registration of voters;
- payment of taxes;
- registration of SIM cards;
- applications for public or government services, facilities, approvals, permissions or benefits; and
- any other transaction which the Authority may determine and publish in the Gazette”
The compulsory nature of the Ghana Card also inheres in the fact that it is the only ID card that all citizens are required to have for social, economic and political activities, unlike sectoral identity cards such as driver’s license, passport or voter ID card which a person applies for only upon need for that sector-specific identity card. Surely, non-possession of the Ghana Card is not a criminal offence, but citizens who do not obtain the Ghana Card will be excluding themselves from participating in many aspects of Ghanaian social, economic and political life.
Thus, state institutions such as GRA, SSNIT, NHIA, NCA and Bank of Ghana asking for the use of the Ghana Card are simply being good corporate citizens complying with the law as required of them by Regulation 7 of L.I. 2111. This law, suffice to say, has been in existence since 2012, and is now being enforced because a critical mass of Ghanaians has now been enrolled unto the National Identity Register, i.e., over 17 million citizens).
Number Three: “The problem now may be due to the negligence on the part of NIA to educate the public enough about the need to acquire the cards in good time”.
Well, there’s always room for improvement, and even the ocean is always ready or expectant to receive more rains! But, no, the problem now has nothing to do with any imagined negligence by NIA to “educate the public enough about the need to acquire the cards in good time”! When is enough enough? NIA begs to differ: inadequate public education is not a contributory factor in the current situation! Here, NIA respectfully nudges the Ghanaian Times to consider the probable reasons for the problem under consideration: (a) congenital apathy on the part of some Ghanaians; (b) an organic or natural “last-minute” attitude on the part of some Ghanaians toward all things requiring effort or industry; (c) sustained partisan political campaigns by segments of the national political elite encouraging some citizens to boycott the Ghana Card; (d) and “I-really-can’t-be-bothered” attitude on the part of some of Ghanaians even when their lives and wellbeing depend on minimal interest and self-exertion. And there must be no deadlines, and deadlines must be extended at will.
Beginning on 15th September 2017 when NIA publicly conducted a liveness testof its technical system and issued the first Ghana Card to President Nana Akufo-Addo, NIA has embarked on massive public education and sensitization programmes across various platforms throughout the country, and has undertaken numerous stakeholder engagements with former Presidents, religious leaders, prominent chiefs,Security services, state institutions, civil society organizations, and five major political parties.
Each encounter with these institutions and personalitiesprovided fertile occasion for public education on the importance of registering for the Ghana Card, doing so in a timely fashion, and the registration requirements, processes and procedures.
Number Four:“… some applicants had to pay as much as GH¢250.00 for premium service for the card whose acquisition was free during the mass registration period”.
This comment createsthe impression that the Ghana Card was free only during the mass registration exercise but applicants now have to pay to acquire it. Registration for the Ghana Card was free during the mass registration exercise and remains free at all NIA’s Regional and District Offices nationwide. Acquiring the card for the first time will remain free for all Ghanaians when they apply at any of the 292 NIA Regional and District Offices nationwide. Payment for the card arises only when a person chooses to acquire it through any of the three special registration arrangement prescribed by law at a fee, namely Premium, Institutional and Household registration services. Under the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Instrument approved by Parliament in 2019, the following special registration services attract fees:
- Premium Service for first-time registration for the Ghana Card is at a fee of GH¢250.00. Currently, NIA provides premium registration services at its Head Office and the Head Office of CalBank Ghana Limited;
- Institutional registration at a fee of GH¢100.00 per applicant for a minimum of fifty (50) applicants; and
- Household registration at a fee of GH¢150.00 per member of the household for a minimum of five (5) household members.
There are two other circumstances in which payment of fees for registration services is permitted by law. First, replacement of a lost or damaged card attracts a statutory fee of GH¢30.00. Card replacement services are currently provided at the El-Wak Sports Stadium in Accra, and at all Regional Offices of NIA. This service will be extended to the District Offices in the coming weeks. Second, a statutory fee of GH¢30.00 is charged for updating one’s Personal Records that leads to the printing of a new card.
Number five: “Since June 28, this year, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has been replacing contributors’ unique scheme identification numbers with the Ghana Card identification numbers …”This assertion is incorrect, as the conversion started in June 2021, more than a year ago.
Kindly permit me to proffer answers to the two questions pose by the editorial:
- “Will bank customers who have not linked their accounts to the Ghana Card be able to transact financial business or not?” and
- “What happens when the July 31 deadline given by telecos elapses when one has not registered the SIM card?”
It is NIA’s mandate to create an efficient system and opportunity for Ghanaians to register and obtain the Ghana Card. NIA has done so, enabling 16,910,854 Ghanaians to be enrolled onto the National Identity Register as at 5th July 2022. NIA is to ensure that opportunity is created for Ghanaians to receive other identity management services such as the replacements of lost cards and updating of applicants’ personal records. NIA has conscientiously implemented its operational plans over the years and has expanded opportunities for applicants to access the said services.
As a responsive and responsible public sector institution, NIA will continue to collaborate with other state institution to promote the use of the Ghana Card and to quicken the pace of progress in our country; it will continue to do all that is reasonable necessary in this regard, but it cannot be blamed for anyone’s failure to link their bank account to, or register their SIM card with, the Ghana Card; the regulators of banks and telecommunication companies, not NIA, must grapple with that consequence.
The NIA trusts that this rejoinder sets straight the records and responds effectively to the invitation from the Ghanaian Times to clear misconceptions and misinformation about the Ghana Card and the work of the NIA.
Prof. Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah
National Identification Authority