It has been said and we have been reminded over and over again that the Ghana card would eventually be a great asset for the national planning and development of this country. Yet, everything about the process for acquiring one has become stressful and discouraging for some applicants. Its importance seems to have been watered down.

For some years now, the acquisition of the much-touted national identification card (Ghana Card) has been more than a journey on a roller-skater. For over a decade since the process of registering Ghanaians for the much talked about national ID card first started, it has not been a smooth exercise for proud citizens who yearn to hold such a card. People are said to line up for hours, rain or shine, just to get registered, not to talk about the waiting time for issuance.

Challenges

Despite the good intentions of Government and of Parliament in their readiness to approve budgets for the national exercise, the process being administered by the National Identification Authority (NIA) has been fraught with challenges. Sometimes, the system gets rocked with controversies which do not seem to be ending. The latest registration which was launched and rolled out over a year ago has still not reached a lot more Ghanaians. The slowness in the whole process is getting people irritated. One can imagine how expensive the exercise gets as we experience delays, especially in the regions.

Admittedly, there has been some significant progress when compared to previous attempts at the exercise. The current process of acquisition of a Ghana card started in April 2019. Per the statistics available, up to 6.5 million Ghanaians have already been registered with 3.7 cards so far issued. However, the figures do not seem to impress taking into account the 2016 voter population figure of 15.8 million, according to Citi FM sources. By all indications, there is still a lot more people who need to be captured.

If indeed the Ghana card is meant to deliver valuable and integrated services to Ghanaians, then a way must be found to minimise the laborious processes of registration so that many more could be incentivised to register. But apart from delivering integrated services, one is also reminded that the card has valuable features recognised worldwide. What is more, the multiple security features make it impossible for even the craftiest criminal to duplicate. So, what is causing the stagnation? What is preventing a faster move so all eligible Ghanaians could be covered, one year on?

Future registrations to link birth registration

According to what obtains in the media, some people, especially those in the regions are already worn out with waiting in long queues for lengthy hours just to get their names and other details captured. Others are also complaining that even though they had registered for weeks and months, they still have not received their cards. Unfortunately, discouragement has set in. Going forward, therefore, and to make future registrations easier and straight forward for eligible citizens, it is time to adopt a straight forward and simpler system whereby the Births Registry could capture on every birth certificate, a unique national identification number.

With that ID number, all it would need for the individual to do, on reaching adulthood, is to use the recorded ID number quoted on his or her birth certificate to register for a Ghana card which then could be used for multiples of transactions including Social Security number. That to me seems a much tidier approach in the acquisition of a national ID card. It would get people to be serious with registering the births of their children and thus help the Births and Deaths Registry with good and credible births statistics for national planning.

The time to sort ourselves out towards a future credible biometric data and stress-free Ghana card is 2020. To borrow what health experts tell us, in optical health, 20 over 20 means one hundred per cent good eyesight.  We have definitely entered the year for doing things right because we are certified with good vision. 2020 is the year to start laying the foundation for future orderly registration and issuance of a national identification card.

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