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24.03.2007 Feature Article

THE NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (NIS) AND IT’S IMPORTANCE

As Ghana celebrates its Golden Jubilee anniversary, all over the world, people's expectation in the area of education, sports, culture and many others are dear to their hearts and might be willing to showcase its achievements to the entire world.

But as technology advances, governments need improved and reliable means of identifying their citizens. Conventional identification with simple cards is not sufficient to ensure the true identity of an individual. The establishment of the National Identification System (NIS) will provide storage, protection and management of the identities of Ghanaians and other nationals resident in the country in a national population register.

The need for the Government of Ghana to reliably identify members of the population is, among other things, to ensure public safety, after services, issue welfare benefits and control immigration and also help with national planning.

Currently, Ghana has no uniform system of identifying residents. The absence of reliable means of identification has created problems for the administration and management of resources in the country. The NIS will help address national security matters, credit information, revenue collection, acquisition of passport and driving licence, and 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 NIS.

Data for planning is another area that can bring enormous impact into the economy in this jubilee year. The biggest challenge to comprehensive national development planning in Ghana is the “lack of reliable data that captures baseline socio-economic conditions and indicators that are required as entry points. The introduction of the National Data Centre results from the need for a reliable database that will provide a solid base for planning the development of the country. It is strongly believed that the National Identification Authority (NIA) 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 nation's development.

It is illegal in Ghana for a citizen to hold at anytime more than one valid passport. However, some people manage to obtain multiple passports and even foreigners possess. The passport office has come a long way in improving its operations over the years but the problem of the issuance of multiple passports to one person still persists, with the introduction of automated fingerprint identification system, the NIS will ensure no person is issued with more than one valid passport and it will go a long way to curb duplicity.

In the area of credit information, one reason for lower credit levels and usage of cheques for commercial transactions is the inability of financial institutions to easily access credit history of Ghanaians and other nationals resident in the country. The high level of cash transactions also deprives government of due tax revenue. Financial assessment of loan applicants would be made easier with the introduction of the NIS. It will also help reduce fraudulent financial transactions.

I am very much convinced that this innovation has come as a legacy indeed from Kufuor administration in order to make the citizens look more confident and belief in the current system of good governance. I say kudos to the Kufour government and Happy Anniversary.

Samuel Laryea
Samuel Laryea, © 2007

This author has authored 5 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: SamuelLaryea

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