On National Identification Cards
A German national, Adam Ross, who was engaged by the previous administration, to provide technical support to the National Identification project, has corroborated a publication by The Herald, which sought to expose an obvious untruth peddled by the Akufo-Addo government, National Identification Authority (NIA) and Margins Group, owned by Moses Baiden.
The expatriate, who was at the launch of the project last Friday, was contracted as a consultant on the National Identification Project, and insiders say, his hard work and diligence was greatly appreciated by the Mahama government in reaching what was outdoored by President Akufo-Addo, last week.
Mr. Ross, who works with the world renowned Crypto Vision based in Germany, decided to give credit to the erstwhile Mahama administration, having worked with it on the project for almost four years.
The Akufo-Addo government, only inherited the project, but was silent on the arrangement leading to last Friday’s lunch in Accra.
Moses Baiden of Margin Group and the Executive Secretary of NIA, Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah, had both failed to acknowledge the significant role of the previous government in bringing the card into reality.
But in a Twitter post on the day the National Identification Authority (NIA) issued the first card to President Akufo-Addo, Mr. Ross, expressed joy over the success of the project calling it “a very ambitious project in Ghana”.
Not minding the kinds of politics done in the country, Mr. Ross said “Today was the culmination of about 3 1/2 years of work on a very ambitious project in Ghana”.
Sounding very excited about the feat chalked since it beginning three and half years ago, Mr. Ross said “The president came to the National Identification Authority [NIA] to officially launch the policy by live issuing the very first Ghanaian eiD card. After making very articulate keynote he entered the agency and was enrolled.
7 minutes later he emerged and shows the crowd of foreign dignitaries, important political figures and the other vendors the very first card produced on the system. Now the hard work will continue to issue 18 million more cards before the end of 2018”.
His post clearly reveals that, the NIA, led by Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah, could not have achieved the monumental feat within the three months time period that he had been in charge of the vital state institution.
It shows that, the government was just seeking to claim what others had started long ago, but luckily had the opportunity to be at it completion stage and hijacked it, refusing to acknowledge the pioneers of the project.
The Herald, had learnt that, the National Identification project, started by the Mahama government was in three phases namely; the National Street Naming Project, the National House Naming Project and the issuance of the National Identification Cards to both Ghanaian citizens and expatriates resident in Ghana.
The NDC government in 2013, signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with Margins Group of Company to register foreigners in the country under a project called, Foreigners Identity Management System (FIMS).
The PPP agreement, was to be a pilot project for an extension of the registration to Ghanaians after two years.
Under the project, foreigners who went to any of the designated registration centers in the country, paid US$120, as a registration fee and within 10minutes, an instant card was issued to them. Currently, the FIMS project is having about 11 centers across the country.
After successfully running the project for 2 years, the NIA, went into another agreement in 2015 with Margins Group of Companies to extend the PPP with the Foreigners to cover Ghanaians by issuing an instant smart card to all Ghanaians.
The complete system arrived in the country in 2015 and preparation, including porting or transferring the Data in the old system into the new system, begun in earnest and designing of the Smart Card as well as collaborating with other state institutions to harmonise the new system also commenced.
The porting or transferring of the old data into the new system, became necessary because cards for Greater Accra applicants, were given out and people were using it to transact business, so it is very important to still maintain their PINS into the new system.
After all the initial preparations were done, a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) was done at Intelligent Card Production Systems (ICPS), a subsidiary of Margins Group from December 13 to 15, 2016 by a Team from the NIA.
The team came up with an 11-point general remarks and recommendation. These include; no portrait matching. Amputees (both hands) and bandage cannot be matched or verified. It will be important for the system to have portrait matching or iris matching system in place.
The system needs a minimum of five (5) fingerprints for registration. It will be better for the system to allow amputees’ registration. The system should also be able to take full picture of amputees as evidence. The registration should not be limited to only applicant with 5 fingerprints or more.
During replacement, update or renewal, the system which used PIN, name or date of birth to pull records from database, was to use fingerprint in pulling applicants records during replacement, renewal and update. The MRW operators should be registered biometrically. The MRWs should be accessed with biometric information or token ID and controlled from the central site.
There should be monitoring interface for the NIS Services and with the system should be able to pick location information using GPS.
Registration reports which are currently generated from the central site, but it was recommended that the MRW operators should be able to generate daily, weekly and monthly reports and among others.
But President, Nana Akufo-Addo on Friday, launched the new National Identification Card crediting his 9-month old government for the project which had seen expatriates paying US$120 for an ID since late 2014 for their instant Ghana cards upon a visit to the Okponglo office complex of the NIA.
The NIA boss, Prof. Attafuah, while giving a detailed explanation of the features of the new card “GhanaCard” said the project marked a significant milestone in the country’s search for a reliable national identification system that would give Ghanaians the regular benefit of a secured national identity, a formalized economy and a system of social inclusion and responsibility.
“I must say by law if you must prove your identity, it is only the GhanaCard that you can use to prove identity. Within a year from now when every Ghanaian in Ghana and every Ghanaian abroad has been given the opportunity to register for the GhanaCard in the first instance for free and you fail to do that, you would not be able to access certain services, facilities and opportunities that are customarily available to the public”, he said.
He further explained that, the card has all the international recognition and requirements needed to travel within the West African sub-region without the necessity of a paper passport, adding registration for the ID will start in November 2017 and end in November 2018.
The card bears personal information about the individuals whose identity can be verified at all times. The NIA National Identity System utilizes three types of biometric technology for identification purposes.
These are the fingerprints unique to each individual in the form of digitized templates, facial templates in the form of a digitized colour photo of the cardholder and Iris.
The NIA deploys cutting-edge technology that incorporates several layers of security features – physical, logical and technical – that could make the card difficult to forge and protect the personal information stored on the card. These features allow only authorized persons to read the information and bonafide owners to use the card for purposes of identification.
The card contains basic identification information including a photograph of the cardholder, along with a name, date of birth, height, a personal identification number that has been randomly generated and assigned to the holder and has an expiry date. Depending on the age of the individual, the card will have either a 2-dimensional barcode or a Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) at the back which holds biometric information: the holder’s fingerprint in digitized templates as well as the holder’s signature.
Both citizens and non-citizens have the same ID card. The only distinguishing feature on the cards is the country code in the Personal Identification Number (PIN) i.e. the PIN for Ghanaians start with the code “GHA” followed by ten digits “GHA-000000000-0 whilst that for Nigerians for example will read “NRG-000000000-0” per the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) country codes and foreigners card has NON-CITIZEN in bold red on the front of the card.
Electronic Identity Document (eID) The new National ID will be electronic identity documents can be used for many applications including: 1. Proof of identity on the internet, 2. Automated age verification, 3. Digital signatures, 4. Encryption, 5. Physical and logical access, 6. Digital payments, 7. Storing health insurance information.