By M. Walubiri, M. Karugaba & H. Sekanjako
Government has suspended the printing and issuance of national IDs on account of the high margin of error in the existing data being used to issue them.
In yet another setback to a priority government project that is well behind schedule, junior Internal Affairs Minister James Baba told parliament yesterday that mass fresh registration aimed at capturing authentic bio data will be rolled out in three months’ time to avoid issuing IDs laced with errors.
The data that was being used by Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCID) to issue IDs was captured by the Electoral Commission in preparation for the 2011 polls and lacks a string of parameters key for issuing IDs.
“Data collected by EC is grossly lacking because many essential features like fingerprints are missing,” Baba said, adding: “We cannot issue IDs based on it.”
Earlier, the House committee on Defense and Internal Affairs had demanded in its ministerial and budget estimate report for the 2013/14 financial year that the ID project be halted to address a slew of anomalies, including flawed data.
“The data being validated is that which was captured by the EC in the run up to the 2011 general elections. The inherent challenge is that this data was primarily meant for political electioneering purposes and some key parameters that are required for purposes of the national ID may not be existent,” the report read by committee chairperson Benny Namugwanya notes.
The report notes that the IDs being issued might not meet regional standards set by countries under the East African Community since they lack an electronic chip which can come in handy in decoding biometric data of the holder.
“With foresight, this might be a hindrance to regional integration processes since the East African Common Market protocol provides for common standardized national identification documents including IDs,” the report cautions.
Already Kenya and Rwanda have national IDs embedded with electronic chips, while Uganda’s attempt to issue national IDs is floundering – three years after the passing of the deadline agreed upon by EAC countries to issue IDs to their citizens.
Although the DCID announced two months ago that it was to issue out 30,000 IDs nationwide on a pilot project, the committee report indicates that only 1121 IDs had been issued out as of 22 August.
Last year, the ministry of internal affairs issued out national IDs to a select group of high profile Ugandans including President Yoweri Museveni, Speaker of Parliament, Vice President and Prime Minister.
The multibillion ID project which is under the National Security and Information System has been beset by problems largely of a procurement nature which have been the subject of an investigative report by parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.