Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana share digital ID success stories in ID4Africa Livecast
The level of progress so far attained by Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana in the implementation of their respective digital identity projects as well as their prospects for the future were at the center of discussions during the second segment of ID4Africa’s 22nd Livecast on October 27.
Presentations by officials from the identity authorities of both West African nations during the ‘i-On-Africa’ segment of the virtual event showed they are well on course with regard to integrating digital ID systems with a number of public services and driving growth in their digital economies.
Ghana’s ID card project success, prospects
To present Ghana’s journey in the implementation of its biometric national ID card project dubbed the ‘Ghana Card’ was Professor Kenneth Agyemang Attuafuah, Executive Secretary of the country’s National Identification Authority (NIA).
Agyemang began by explaining the mandate and objective of the country’s National Identification System (NIS).
“The mandate of the NIA is to create, maintain, provide and promote the use of national ID cards in order to advance economic, political and social activities in the country… The NIS provides a secure biometric register with a verification system. It provides the single source of truth for the verification of persons. The Ghana Card uniquely identifies the bearer based on biometric features. It can be used for the verification and authentication of the identity of an individual,” he said.
Since mass registration for the cards was launched in 2019, the NIA boss said great progress has been made in terms of the number of Ghanaians registered and the number of cards printed and issued.
He said a total of 15,663,585 Ghanaians are registered with the NIA as of 2021, as opposed to just about 4.5 million in 2017. Today, he went on, 15,564,490 of the cards have been printed, while 14,056,768 of them have been issued. Talking about features of the card, Agyemang noted that it is a dual interface smart card with 10 fingerprints, 148K storage space and a 13-digit tracking number.
To achieve this feat, the NIA boss said the project enjoyed broad-based collaboration from a panoply of stakeholders across the Ghanaian society, which allowed the NIA to surmount a number of challenges.
Agyemang noted that the support from various personalities and institutions was central to the successful implementation of the Ghana Card project. Among others, he cited the collaboration of the President and Vice President of Ghana as well as support from other influential individuals and institutions such as past presidents, the judiciary and legislative arms of government, and the national house of chiefs, among others.
He equally noted the mission and enthusiasm of the NIA staff, the readiness of many Ghanaians to acquire the cards, as well as a push from all political parties and civil society groups.
Thanks to such wide collaboration, he explained, the NIA has been able to exceed the mass registration target of 80 percent, and print over 80 percent of the Ghana Card instantly. The NIA employ over 76,000 field officials, shares biographic data sets with some key public service institutions, and has stopped 3,811 foreigners from signing onto the national identity registry as Ghanaians.
Integration with public services
As the number of persons signing up for the card continues to grow, so too are efforts by the NIA to integrate the digital ID system with different public services.
“There are about 17 mandatory uses of the Ghana Card. These things cannot be done if the person does not have the card. In Ghana without the Ghana card, you cannot apply for and be issued a passport, a driver’s license, purchase an insurance policy, engage in banking transactions, purchase, and transfer or register land titles, register to vote, pay taxes, register a SIM card or mobile telephone, as well as access to various public or governmental services,” the NIA Executive Secretary noted.
He mentioned that already, the NIA has integrated its data with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Ghana Revenue Authority, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Controller and Accountant General Department, banks and telecommunication operators.
What’s next for the Ghana Card project?
The NIA Executive Secretary disclosed that as part of its plans for the future, the organization is working to begin the registration of Ghanaians younger than 15, as well as the registration of citizens living out of the country.
Talks and negotiations are also underway for the ID system to be integrated with more public stakeholders.
“There are ongoing discussions to see how to integrate the data with the Electoral Commission, Births and Deaths Registry, Ghana Immigration Service, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. The Card will also soon be integrated with services offered by institutions such as the Land Commission of Ghana, the National Service Secretariat and the Student Loan Scheme,” said Agyemang.
Cote d’Ivoire: ID implementation making progress
Taking the relay to talk about the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, the director general of the national civil status registration and identification office (ONECI), Sitionni Gnénin Kafana, presented the country’s digital ID project, the body overseeing it (which is ONECI), as well as the state of advancement of its implementation.
According to Kafana, the new digital ID project called the National Registry of Natural Persons (RNPP) was adopted in 2018 by the council of ministers with the objective of putting in place a modern civil status and secure identification system that would allow citizens to enjoy better identity-based services.
For this to happen, he said the country developed a six-pillar strategy which identified a number of issues to be done such as a reform of the legal framework, reinforcing the capacity of staff of ONECI and other relevant stakeholders, and the updating of vital statistics – all of these with the goal of digitizing the system for the collection of civil status data and creating a unified database of natural persons in the country.
This, he went on, led to the launch of a new biometrics-based national ID card system, with the first mass registration exercise for the IDs launched in February 2020. The digital ID project is being implemented on a Public-Private-Partnership basis with Belgian firm Semlex as contractor.
Kafana further explained that after a person is registered with the ID system, they are issued a unique national identification number (NNI) which can enable them have access too certain public services such social insurance, healthcare, financial and banking services, issuance of a passport and a driver’s license, public transportation, administrative services, immigration and education.
On the state of advancement of the project, Kafana said the deployment of the ID system is ongoing, while plans to begin registration for citizens living abroad is being worked out. The registration is done in physical centers and by mobile teams deployed by ONECI, he added. ONECI has also been organizing campaigns to distribute cards that have already been produced.
Moving ahead, the ONECI director general said while the solution for the digital ID has been in place in January 2020, those for the digital civil status and migration will be provided by the technical partner this November and December respectively.
They also expect to begin rollout of other digital services linked to the ID by this December while all works on the new system are programmed to be completed by the end of 2022. The authentication solution, meanwhile, is already available, he noted.
Responding to some questions from attendees of the event, Kafana also underlined that the new digital ID is a requirement for participation in elections as it is linked to the voter registration system. He equally responded to another question on steps taken by ONECI to make registration for the digital ID system inclusive enough, so it does not leave out people without any foundational ID document.
At the end of the Livecast, ID4Africa Executive Chairman Dr. Joseph Atick made a synoptic overview of all the country reports in the last couple of virtual events, and highlighted the major lessons learned them, which can be useful for other countries in the conception, design and implementation of their digital ID ecosystems.