That a staggering 16.8 million Ugandans – close to half of the population, do not have the National Identity Cards (IDs) is quite worrying.
This is proof that the process of obtaining the National ID has not been simplified enough. In cases where one got the ID but found errors originating from National Identification and Registration Authority (Nira), the owner would still pay the price in order for the fault to be rectified.
But we must remember that such mistakes also impact the country’s database.
Currently, any second transaction on the National ID attracts a fee. This means whether you lost your ID or discovered any error on your ID, you will have to incur Shs50,000 in addition to a bank charge. But why would Nira require someone to pay for a mistake that they did not create?
The law explains it. Section 82 of the Registration of Persons Act, 2015 protects Nira employees from personal liability for mistakes made while on duty. It also says “A member of the Board of staff of the Authority or any other person acting under the authority of the Board or the Authority, is not personally liable for any omission done or omitted to be done in good faith in the exercise of the functions of the Authority.”
But many Ugandans who do not have National IDs cannot even access financial services because it is one of the main requirements demanded by financial institutions. Without a national ID, you are locked out of accessing many other services such as buying land, buying a new Sim card and opening a bank account, among others, which slows down Bank of Uganda’s efforts in increasing financial inclusion.
This is worsened by the fact that other legal documents such as passports and driving permits can no longer be accepted by most agencies and prefer that one presents their National ID.
The National ID is a key identification requirement while opening and operating a bank or mobile money transfer account and is used to limit fraudsters and money launderers from operating.
Now that the process of obtaining the ID is continuous, the National ID should not be considered as the sole document to access public services. There is also urgent need for Nira to employ competent data entrants who pay attention to detail so as to avoid making glaring mistakes as they enter people’s data.