Gov’t allocates sh192B for National ID Cards Renewal

Gov’t allocates sh192B for National ID Cards Renewal
The Secretary to Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi. PHOTO/COURTESY

Summary:

  • The Ministry of Finance allocated sh192 billion to kickstart Uganda’s National Identification renewal project, addressing funding gaps hindering mass enrollment and ID card renewals.

The Ministry of Finance unveiled a substantial allocation of sh192 billion to initiate the much-anticipated National Identification renewal project, marking a significant stride towards enhancing Uganda’s administrative infrastructure. Dr. Ramathan Ggoobi, serving as the Secretary to the Treasury and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, shared this pivotal revelation during a press briefing held on Monday, January 29, 2024, in Kampala. This announcement accompanied the disbursement of over sh4 trillion earmarked for the third quarter of the 2023/2024 fiscal year.

Standing amidst the ministry’s top brass, Dr. Ggoobi underscored that a portion of the funds, amounting to sh144 billion, has been earmarked for procuring state-of-the-art tablets crucial for the forthcoming National Population Census. The urgency of this allocation echoes the sentiments expressed by Rosemary Kisembo, the Executive Director of the National Information Registration Authority (NIRA), who lamented before Parliament the Agency’s inability to kickstart the mass enrollment of 17.2 million individuals due to financial constraints.

Kisembo’s concerns were not unfounded. She highlighted the pending mass renewal of national identification cards, targeting 15.8 million citizens, as the cards are slated to expire in August 2024. During a parliamentary session convened on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, she emphasized NIRA’s unmet need for a budget, specifically referencing the sh666.85 billion allocation intended for the installation of the National Security Information System (NSIS) in 2022, which remains unutilized.

The Electoral Commission’s issuance of the electoral roadmap in August 2023 further intensified the pressure on NIRA to furnish the Commission with an updated register of citizens to facilitate the compilation and maintenance of the voters’ register by September 2024. Wilson Kajwengye, Chairperson of the Committee overseeing Defence and Internal Affairs, grilled NIRA on its preparedness for the forthcoming mass enrollment vis-à-vis the impending elections, highlighting the urgency of the matter.

In response, Kisembo reassured the Committee of NIRA’s commitment, albeit acknowledging delays in implementation. She cited ongoing capacity-building initiatives and expressed optimism regarding project advancement pending adequate funding. Notably, NIRA’s engagement with the Ministry of Finance has yielded prospects of supplementary funding amounting to sh370 billion, subject to Cabinet approval, to expedite project execution.

The imminent rollout of the new national identity cards, mandated for all Ugandan citizens in 2024, heralds a transformative era in identification technology. Major General Kahinda Otafiire, the Minister of Internal Affairs, unveiled groundbreaking features of the new IDs, integrating artificial intelligence and DNA profiling to enhance identification accuracy and security. Importantly, citizens who previously obtained a National Identification Number (NIN) will retain their existing digits, streamlining administrative continuity.

In a bid to streamline service delivery, Otafiire announced the introduction of express services, enabling applicants to procure new national IDs online for a nominal fee of sh50,000. Moreover, the revamped IDs promise to facilitate interstate travel, eliminating cumbersome paperwork at border points and airports, thus fostering seamless mobility across national borders.

This monumental initiative unfolds against the backdrop of expiring national IDs issued during the mass registration exercise launched in 2014. As the ten-year validity period of these IDs draws to a close in 2024, the government’s proactive measures underscore its unwavering commitment to modernizing administrative frameworks and ensuring citizen-centric service delivery.

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