By Isaiah Rwanyekiro
The Government of Uganda is implementing the National Security Information System project commonly known as the National Identity Card project.
Issuance of the National Identity Cards, which is the constitutional mandate of the National Citizen and Immigration Board started rolling out in Kampala on July 15, 2013 at East Kololo Primary School as well as Uganda Museum.
On July 29, the roll out exercise will then spread out to the whole of Kampala and eventually in other three districts of Kasese, Buyende and Lira before it is rolled out massively across the whole country.
Ugandans eligible to receive cards for now are those whose biometric details were captured during the national voter registration in 2010 by the Electoral Commission.
In effect, the card issuance and mass registration process has now begun. By December 2015, all eligible Ugandan citizens of voting age (18 years and above) shall have been registered and issued with national identification cards and most importantly each Ugandan shall be issued with a unique identifying number known as the National Identification Number(NIN).
To put the National Security Information System (NSIS) commonly known by Ugandans now as the National ID project in perspective, we all need to understand three key things or deliverables and these are:
- Creating a National Identification Register (NIR). This shall be a huge data base that shall contain all the details of Ugandans and non Ugandans. If ever the Ugandan state wants to make a roll call of all Ugandans and non Ugandans, it is this NIR that shall be the register upon which one is identified as a Ugandan or a non Ugandan.
- The second deliverable for the NSIS project is the infrastructure. Part of the infrastructure is what Mulhbauer High Tech International was paid 64million Euros to deliver. This includes a card production centre now based in Entebbe, laptops, cameras, signature pads, scanners, standby generators, spare batteries and the blank national IDs.
- The third and final aspect and this is what concerns every Ugandan is the registration of everyone and receipt of National IDs. So the Government of Uganda has been able to put in place successfully the infrastructure. It bought the equipment for production and printing of National IDs and also obtained 16million blank copies of the IDs. This infrastructure has been set up in Entebbe at the premises of the Uganda Printing Publishing Corporation.
What do the ordinary Ugandans, therefore, need to understand? First and foremost, it is important that everyone understands the scope and importance of the National ID. After the National ID has been rolled out across the country, it shall be the primary and only source of credible identification for who is a Ugandan and non Ugandan.
Therefore, members of the public need to pay extra attention when volunteering information to the NSIS team in regard to their personal details such as dates of birth, schools attended, places of birth or origin and parents and grandparents.
Should you choose to give false information that shall mark you for life? It means you will have to change all your other previous documents to be in sync with information that is on your National ID.
The National ID, therefore, needs to be taken seriously by all Ugandans as failure to do so shall cause one great inconvenience of having to change all other documents to suit the information captured in the National Identity Register from which finally the National ID is produced.
Therefore, the primary role of the Government is to ensure there is a National Identification Register which has been delivered. After this it is the responsibility of every citizen to register with the NSIS team and as well find time to pick their IDs when finally they are ready.
Based on the National Identity Register, the government will then offer Ugandans services such as passports, social services, financial services, electoral purposes, security to mention a few hassle free.
When completed, this NSIS project will be a valuable tool to the government for planning and provision of social services. The system will be of timely importance and application in areas such as:
- Timely registration and monitoring of citizenship birth, marriages, deaths, aliens and refugees etc
- Provision of social services such as education, health, cross border immigration and passport control
- Employment-pension contributions, benefits and insurance
- Law enforcement that is ability to track illegal activities and criminals e.g financial transactions, money laundering etc
- Electoral processes
- Tax administration that is collection and management of taxes
- National population statistics (censuses, surveys, segregation and monitoring trends for planning purposes etc)
It is for this reason that Article 18 of the Constitution specifically states that “The state shall register every birth, marriage and death occurring in Uganda”. In addition, Article 16 of the Constitution establishes the National Citizenship and Immigration Board whose functions as spelt out in the Citizenship and Immigration Control Act include:
- Registering and issuing national identity cards to the citizens of Uganda.
- Issuing Ugandan passports and other travel documents
- Granting and cancelling citizenship by registration and naturalisation
- Granting and cancelling immigration permits
- Registering and issuing national identity cards to both Ugandans and aliens etc.
Ugandans should actively participate in this process but should not abuse the process for in so doing, one may end up changing their identity forever, a mistake that can turn out to be so costly and very inconveniencing.
The writer works with the Uganda Media Centre
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Ugandans should value the National ID project