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Ghana switches from dedicated biometric cards for pensioners to Ghana Card, counts savings

Ghana switches from dedicated biometric cards for pensioners to Ghana Card, counts savings
 

The head of the Ghana Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the government agency responsible for managing pension matters, says a significant sum has been saved after the decision to stop the printing of biometric insurance cards for pension earners in the country.

The Director General of the SSNIT, John Ofori-Tenkorang, said that since the Ghana Card was adopted in place of the biometric insurance card, the sum of about GHs60 million (US$6.6 million) has been saved, writes My Joy Online, reporting on the sixth regional meeting of the body in Kumasi.

The decision to do away with the biometric insurance card was taken in 2018, but the harmonization of data actually started in June 2021. The harmonization entailed the transfer of SSNIT members’ data to the database of the National Identification Authority (NIA), making it possible for members to be identified, at the time of service, using their Ghana Card.

Apart from saving money, SSNIT authorities said the move was going to also ensure the rapid handling of pension-related files, help in business and banking transactions, registration of land titles and SIM cards, seamless access to certain social services, as well as the expansion of SSNIT offers and the fight against fraud.

It is not clear to what extent these other goals have been attained, but My Joy Online quotes Ofori-Tenkorang as saying during the Kumasi meeting that the data of 1.9 million Ghanaians has already been merged with the NIA database.

“The card alone was costing us about 7.1 dollars, but since we stopped printing cards, we have signed on about 1.2 million people. Basically, when we stopped printing cards, we’ve saved about 60 million Ghana cedis,” said the official, as quoted.

The Ghana Card, with its issuance problems notwithstanding, is used for a broad range of purposes.

It is the only ID credential required for an ongoing SIM card re-registration process in the country, and is also the document needed for voter registration ahead of the 2024 general elections.

Accra has also been working to make the card acceptable as an international travel document.

Ghana investigating claims biometric passports issued to foreigners

The Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Ministry of Ghana says it is looking into allegations contained in social media videos that the country’s biometric passports have been issued to foreign nationals living in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf States.

According to a statement from the ministry, seen by Biometric Update, it is an offense punishable under Ghanaian law for foreigners to hold the country’s passport, citing cases in the past where those attempting to acquire the travel document illegally were arrested and prosecuted.

“It is worth emphasizing that with the current biometric passports being issued by the Passport Office, applicants undergo rigorous vetting processes which make it difficult for unqualified persons, notably foreigners, to acquire Ghanaian passports” the ministry notes.

The statement assures that the ministry will continue to “adopt relevant measures in the issuance of Ghanaian passports in order to uphold and protect the integrity of the travel document.”

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