The process of identifying and registering all Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians living in Ghana is soon to begin, following the completion of systems and processes needed for its take-off.
The National Identification Authority (NIA), the body that will be responsible for the exercise, is set for a smooth take-off of the identification project.
Professor Ernest Dumor, the Executive Secretary of the NIA, pointed out that the authority's readiness was in anticipation of the passage of the NIA Bill this year.
Under the project, a database will be opened for all Ghanaians, including those living abroad, and non-Ghanaians with legal residence in Ghana for electoral, social security and other identification exercises.
With a current staff strength of six, the secretariat of the NIA has put the structures in place for what the executive secretary describes as a “socio-technical project”.
It has acquired a plot of land, different from the one claimed by the Ghana Football Association (GFA), for a building and already architectural designs have been completed.
In an interview on the announcement by President Kufuor that “the contract for the much-awaited identification programme is expected to be awarded soon”, Prof Dumor said the contractors were to offer technical help and support to the authority.
Although the executive secretary would not name the contractors, their origin or the contract sum involved, he emphasised that those who had won the contract were not to run the programme but offer technical support to the authority.
He said the NIA had, since its inception, restrained itself from making public announcements about its pre-implementation activities, since the act that empowered it had not yet been passed by Parliament.
However, the nature of the programme, according to him, was so painfully difficult and intellectually challenging, requiring security measures, particularly the protection of data stored in the national database.
Therefore, ground preparations had to begin before the setting up of the authority after the passage of the bill and that was what the NIA secretariat had been up to for the past two years.
“On the basis of jurisprudence, we have kept away from the public and the limelight for very good reasons.
However, we have critically thought through the operational challenges that an organisation such as the NIA might face in the future.
We have analysed the risks in order to lessen the difficulties that we might face when the NIA is set up,” he said.
He added that the nature of the NIA demanded a security driven organisation and, therefore, critical issues about the human resource needs of the organisation, the technology to be used and a whole lot of other social and technical issues had to be thought of first.
“Measures have, therefore, been instituted to prevent internal intrusion by staff and external attacks by hackers of any system that will be fully owned and managed by the government and people of Ghana,” Prof Dumor said.
According to him, the secretariat had managed to consult all critical stakeholders throughout the length and breadth of the country, prepared educational materials for radio, TV, the print and other media, as well as documents and manuals necessary for sustaining the organisation, data gathering, data capturing and data protection regulations.
Prof Dumor said the NIA was not just about the issuance of identity cards or any type of cards but that it involved a demanding process involving the gathering of personal information from all Ghanaians, both within and without, and non-Ghanaians living legally in the country, keeping it in a database for the efficient running of other essential agencies in the country tasked with economic planning and development.
Meanwhile, investigations by the Daily Graphic indicate that the bill for the establishment of the NIA is now before Parliament and will be passed by the first quarter of this year.