September 4, 2013

Parliament Wants National ID Project Suspended

The Uganda Parliament’s Defense and Internal Affairs committee wants the printing of the national identity cards suspended citing the margin of error in the available data and recommended that an inter-agency approach be embraced for  the National Security Information System-NSIS.

The committee argues that the equipment has neither been tested nor commissioned and yet its warranty expired over a year ago.
The committee argues that the equipment has neither been tested nor commissioned and yet its warranty expired over a year ago.

This recommendation is contained in the report of the Defense and Internal Affairs committee of parliament on the internal affairs ministerial statement and budget for the 2013/2014 financial year.

The committee argues that the National identity cards produced and distributed so far, are a product of the pilot process adding that, the bulk of equipment for the  is still packed in boxes as it was imported.

The committee argues that the equipment has neither been tested nor commissioned and yet its warranty expired over a year ago.  It also notes that the premises housing the equipment at the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation in Entebbe are yet to be refurbished and that by 24th July 2013 when the committee visited the premises there was no activity taking place save for data validation and labeling of equipment.

It also observes that the data validated was captured by Electoral Commission (EC) in the run up to the 2011 general elections.

The committee notes of the inherent challenge since the data was primarily meant for political electioneering purposes and some key parameters that are required for the purposes of the national ID may not be existent. They say that this partially explains the 11% success rate in the data validation exercise.

Of the 214,700 data sets so far validated, only 24,707 have passed the test. The Committee notes that the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control- DCIC plans robust data enrollment this financial year (2013/2014) and hopes that this phase of data enrollment will plug the gaps existent in the data initially captured by EC.

The committee is also concerned that there are no visible points of interface between NSIS and other prospective players such as Uganda Bureau of Statistics and EC. The committee believes the data from the two could be helpful in processes such as the impending national population and housing census.

Members of the committee according to the report were also concerned that unlike other countries in the region such as Kenya and Rwanda, Uganda’s national ID does not have an electronic chip that can aid the decoding of biometric data.

This makes the verification of data centralized and could potentially become an adversely bureaucratic process, yet with an electronic chip, all that is required is a national ID card reader connected to a computer at any designated location such as border posts. They also argue that this may also be a hindrance to regional integration process since the East African Common Market Protocol provides for common standardized national identification documents including national ID.

The committee notes that unless this is corrected, it could pose a threat to the extent to which Ugandans will actually benefit from the intra-EAC trade. Further, the committee noted that whereas EC released the road-map for the 2016 general elections on 7th May 2013, there is little evidence of any collaborative framework with the Ministry of internal affairs in as far as capturing of data of Ugandans is concerned.

The committee believes that a strategic partnership in this regard would be more economical, efficient and effective.

According to the report, the absence of the National ID cards has led to difficulty of verifying citizens in immigrations management.

 

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