The Strategic Thinkers Network-Africa (STRANEK) has fastidiously looked into the Ghana Card being issued by the National Identification Authority (NIA) including the operations and systems being used and we are of the candid view that it is simply a shambolic project. Reasons for our view on this project are as follows.
First and foremost, the cost of the project is way too high if we compare same projects with other countries. In Nigeria, with a population of approximately 160 million, spent $87 million on the same project. India with a population of approximately 1.2 billion spent $1.5 billion. Unfortunately, Ghana with a population of approximately 28 million is spending $1.2 billion. This is a non-judicious and wasteful way of spending the tax payer’s money.
Secondly, the NIA boasts of added-on features on the Ghana Card such as having all information of the person on the card as compared to the other countries who are experienced in this project. STRANEK-AFRICA is of the view that this is needless since we believe the card should be a “key” to the reference database of the owner of the card. Biological information of a person on his or her Ghana card like an information on a pen drive, creates room for security issues and allows con-men, fraudsters, hackers and if you like rogues to take advantage of the loopholes in the system. Rhetorically, who in this world carries all his information on a pen drive and takes it everywhere he goes? That is to us, a lazy-man approach with regards to identification on a national scale.
We opine that, all the card should have is a primary reference number that can be referenced on various government databases such as the police service, the immigration service, the Ghana Revenue Authority among other agencies. Countries like the United States of America and United Kingdom have similar identity cards hence the barcode on the card is enough to release your information from the database of the state. These countries are not putting all information of a person on a card to safeguard their security.
That is not the case for Ghana with this lazy-man approach with regards to the project. We can confidently say that one of the causes of the premature technical hitches being faced on the first day of issuing the cards could be traced to the attempt to heavily load all information of a person on a card. In short, a specific reference number is all that the card should have which can pull out the information of a cardholder from the database of various government agencies.
Thirdly, looking at the tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic products in Ghana as compared to India and Nigeria indicates how wasteful and misplaced government is with regards to how tax revenue is spent. India, with a population of 1.2 billion has tax revenue as 17.7 % of GDP whereas Nigeria with a population of approximately 160 million has tax revenue as 6.1% of GDP. Ghana, with a population of approximately 28 million has tax revenue as 20.8 % of GDP and yet government is not setting its priorities right when roads, hospitals, schools, allowances, salaries among others are pending to be solved.
Ghana Card is necessary for tax purposes and ID referencing. It will also be useful for banks with regards to services they render to their customers among others but the way and manner in which it is being operated makes it shambolic, an anti-protection of the public purse and the added value of those features claimed by NIA as compared to other countries is zilch.
To recapitulate, we ask Government to call for a review of the contract and everything that comes with it.
We are all involved in building our motherland.
Nii Tettey Tetteh
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