President Museveni did not “single-handedly contract” the German firm, Muhlbauer Technology Group, to implement the National Identity Card project, State House officials said on Thursday.
Daily Monitor reported on Tuesday, that Muhlbauer Technology Group was contracted in March 2010 without competitive bidding on the orders of President Museveni, after reported lobbying by the then German ambassador to Kampala, Reinhard Butchnolz, who met the President, a week before the contract was signed, to make a case for the firm.
But in a statement responding to that article, and a second one published on Wednesday, the officials said the Identity Card Project is part of the National Security Information Systems (NSIS) Project, which is being implemented under the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“All procurement regarding this project is classified, since it is of a highly-sensitive national security nature. This in no way implies that His Excellency The President single-handedly contracted the firm, Muhlbauer Technology Group, to do the job,” said the statement, sent by the President’s Deputy Press Secretary, Ms Lindah Nabusayi Wamboka.
The statement explains that the NSIS Project, launched in March last year as part of government’s effort to establish critical infrastructure for identity management, consists of three sub-projects; the establishment of a personalisation and data centre sub-project, the mass enrolment of the population sub-project and the issuance of national identity cards sub-project.
According to State House, the total amount of funds required for the full implementation of the project is Shs100 billion. However, for the last financial year, only Shs600 million was secured.
“This leaves a huge funding gap for the 2011/2012 year. The project is, by 2014, expected to have established a national data bank providing, at the click of a button, national information on biometrics, education, health, birth, death, economic performance, taxation, tourism, etc. in the country,” it says.
State House says contrary to claims in the Daily Monitor “that nothing has been done since the project was launched, a number of significant activities have been carried out.”
The achievements listed by State House include the procurement of 4,000 mobile data enrolment units, the training of 8,000 data capture operators and the procurement of 1,000 generators (mobile power suppliers).
In addition, the government has procured 87 servers for data collection and received 100,000 virgin cards, on which biometric particulars are printed, which are being stored at the Bank of Uganda. A Pilot Personalisation Data Centre has also reportedly been established, and the design for the national ID completed.
State House also said the biometrics of five million people have been captured, and are awaiting printing of their cards. On the enabling legislation, State House says the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control (Registration of Citizens and Issuance of National Identity Numbers and National Identity Cards) Regulations S.1 No. 16 of 2011 have been gazzetted and published.
“Contrary to the impression of sleaze and inefficiency that the Daily Monitor wants to associate with this important government project, the project’s biggest curtailing factor is shortage of funds,” says the statement.
“Despite our financial squeeze, noteworthy achievements outlined above indicate government resolve to successfully implement this project.”