National ID success hinged much on people as on technology
Publish Date: Apr 22, 2014
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By Ivan Kahangire

Just a few days into the roll out of the massive National ID registration exercise, the Government agencies responsible are already grappling with poor turn up by the masses, largely due to the long queues at the registration centres in urban centres where it takes an average of 45 minutes to register a single person, and poor turn up in the rural areas, all due to poor training and sensitisation.

Firstly, this civic responsibility that should be taken up enthusiastically and with national pride remains in ownership of the Government technocrats instead of the masses.

Great emphasis, resources and time in countless boardroom meetings have been spent to procure and deploy thousands of expensive IT equipment, whilst forgetting to adequately prepare and empower the individuals who are sitting at these centres and doing the actual data capture, logistics management and entire value chain.

As is for ICT projects, people and change process management and empowerment should be given as much emphasis if not more, as the enabling ICT infrastructure so as to achieve the desired results.

The technical personnel should be given confidence and a sense of ownership, by not only adequately training them on use of these data capture equipment but also setting them clear goals, objectives and well-defined key performance indicators based on which reward and dismissal would be based.

None security related staff up to the highest level should be recruited, feel valuable and involved in all phases of delivery methodology, management, planning and control of project activities to promote effective communication, improved scope, risk management and overall best project delivery.

In fact, technology contributes as little as 15% of overall success of such projects, whilst 85% is attributed to management of people and data.

Countries like South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria have already implemented biometric national Identity card systems, and whether Uganda is implementing photo and card or biometric ID, the methodology and delivery should be benchmarked from these so that we can leap frog their past failures.

These basic project performance management techniques may have been ignored, largely because of the political push to have this exercise succeed “at all costs”, but while the benefits and matter of urgency may not be debatable, sacrificing these basics may mean the firefighting exercise for those responsible may have been cut out.

Even then, following cook book project management approaches will be least ideal as managing people’s expectations should take precedence.

Conclusively, a biometric national database will help the Government eliminate duplication of citizens’ records which will in effect benefit accurate service delivery, give confidence and impetus to invest to the banking sector due to reduction in forged checks and signatures by use of digital fingerprint signatures, improve law enforcement through fast and accurate identification of criminals from their respective biometric data, improved healthcare delivery through prevention of medical identity theft, immigration and border control among many more.

By training, all the staff to the least rung individual to appreciate the value of the system and own it, to register as many people in the shortest possible time, to serve with a smile, even by providing registration incentives such as in the on-going Indian General Election where in some states a vote cast guarantees one a discount per liter of fuel at the petrol station, people will feel involved and the uptake of this exercise will be much higher, and carried out much faster, leading to the desired success of the project.

The writer is an enterprise solutions business development consultant

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