President Nana Akufo-Addo has become the first recipient of the new national ID card to signal the start of a massive registration process to capture the biometric data of more than 27million Ghanaians.
The Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia also becomes the second to receive the “Ghana card” seen as an important jigsaw in the puzzle to formalise the economy.
At a ceremony in Accra to outdoor the ID card, President Akufo-Addo was full of praise for the National Identification Authority for the expeditious implementation of the project which the previous government failed to do in eight years.
The President said his presence at the NIA headquarters along with the Vice-president Dr Bawumia is to leave no Ghanaian in doubt that his government takes the project seriously because, it has severe implications for development.
The outdooring of the new Ghana card, he said, is a “practical demonstration of the fulfilment of yet another promise of my party that we would modernise the economy”.
He pointed out the “demonstrated inability” and “historic inability” of the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to implement the program which was first started under the previous New Patriotic Party (NPP) government led by President John Agyekum Kufuor.
The National Identification Authority (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 premises on which to operate.
The National Identity Register Act, 2008 (Act 750) was also passed to give authorisation for collection of personal and biometric data and to ensure the protection of privacy and personal information of enrollees.
But after a change in government in 2009, the project stalled. The new Akufo-Addo government re-appointed Prof. Ken Attufuah who was the NIA’s first Executive Secretary when it was set up.
The President lamented about the failure of the previous government to continue from where the NPP left off in 2009. He said it has resulted in the proliferation of several public institutions trying to do the work of the NIA by biometrically registering its members.
The new Ghana card, he said, would end all need for biometric identification and registration by other public and private companies, churches and institutions.
“Ultimately, the Ghana ID cards will replace the sectoral identity cards in circulation and shall be the only card to be used in transactions where identification is required by law,” the President said.
He argued that it is better to keep sensitive digital data with the NIA than allowing other institutions to do same. “Assigning the collection and custody of biometric traits to a single institution is safer and in line with current trends”.
He touted the benefits of the Ghana card explaining other stakeholders can run their applications on the Ghana card. It also has 14 international features and can be used as a pass to other ECOWAS countries, the NIA has said.
The President said the card is a plus for the Births and Deaths Registry because new born babies will also be issued with the card as part of a plan to “sanitise birth registration and ensure social inclusion right from birth”.
The NIA CEO, Prof. Ken Attafuah said a massive registration exercise across the country will begin in November. Unlike the previous attempt, citizens home and abroad will be issued the card instantly.
The NIA has up to November 2018 to finish the project.