What you need to know:
The issue: National IDs.
Our view: Given that the national identity card has become a must-have, it is incumbent that the ongoing registration process targets not just the elderly, but all Ugandans.
The National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), working with the ministries of Gender, Labour and Social Development and that of Internal Affairs earlier this week commenced on a registration exercise that is specifically targeting elderly citizens.
The remedial registration was prompted by the discovery that 54,559 elderly persons have not been accessing the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE), under which government doles out Shs25,000 to citizens above the age of 80, because of issues related to national identity cards.
Whereas 11,000 of the affected persons had never had their details captured by NIRA, the details on the identity cards of 43,559 of them had been entered wrongly. This made it impossible for them to open bank accounts through which the money would be paid. Possession of a national identity card is one of the requirements for opening a bank account.
The announcement of the remedial registration comes as good music to the ears, but it should not be limited to elderly persons alone. NIRA should be working to ensure that it captures the details of all Ugandans.
The World Bank’s position on national identity cards has been that they can boost financial inclusion and improve transparency and efficiency in service delivery. Most of the world’s countries introduced them for purposes of enabling their people access public and private services with ease. That does not seem to be the case with Uganda.
Whereas we have turned the national identity card into a master key of sorts -- without a national identity card one cannot buy a mobile phone SIM card, get a driving permit or passport, open a bank account, buy land or even access healthcare in most public facilities -- we have at the same time made acquisition or replacement of a lost national identity card as hard as the proverbial camel going through the eye of a needle.
This has led to the emergence of a cartel that has been cashing in on the difficulties around accessing a national identity card to make a quick buck. What used to happen at the passport control office back in the days when accessing a passport now pertains at NIRA.
If the figures that the executive director of NIRA, Ms Rosemary Kisembo, gave while accepting the job last year are anything to go by, 16.6 million Ugandans do not have national identity cards, which is unacceptable.
Given that the national identity card has become a must-have, it is incumbent that the ongoing registration process targets not just the elderly, but all Ugandans.
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