The Strategic Thinkers Network Africa (Stranek-Africa) fears that Ghana’s quest to create a national identification database risks being an exercise in futility.
In the group’s view, the exercise which is being carried out by the National Identification Authority (NIA) will not yield any meaningful results because Ghana is missing one of the most important aspects of the process.
In a statement copied to Myjoyonline.com, the group said “…it is the position of STRANEK-Africa that regardless of the political and financial commitment by the government of Ghana towards the establishment of an extensive, reliable, robust and all-encompassing national identification scheme through the National Identification Authority, if provisions are not made for capturing and registering at birth of all Ghanaians and resident foreigners born in Ghana as well, the ongoing National Identification Registration would be an exercise in futility and a wastage of precious but limited public resources.”
The NIA is undertaking a mass registration exercise to capture the information of Ghanaians onto a National Identity Register, following which a Ghana Card is issued.
The mandatory requirements for the registration are a birth certificate or valid Ghana passport or certificate of citizenship and Ghana Post Digital Address.
Those who did not have the mandatory documents needed a relative issued with the Ghana Card, or two community members issued with the Ghana Card or serving or retired public servants, civil servants, the clergy amongst others to vouch for them to be registered.
But STRANEK-Africa is worried about the focus of the exercise which the group says is largely on people born and living both in Ghana and abroad and foreign or legal or permanent residents in Ghana.
According to the group, little or no attempt has been made at establishing an integrated system that captures at birth and allocates permanent identity numbers to Ghanaians and resident foreign nationals born in Ghana.
“Where such an attempt has been made, it has been nothing more than rhetoric,” the statement added.
Citing the Scandinavian module where in order not to suffer any setbacks as well as double financial jeopardy, it is hospitals that report the birth to the respective Scandinavian Tax Administration/National Population Register.
“These Tax Administrations then assigns the child a National identification number and sends a request or notification to the parents (Father and Mother) to choose a name for the child. The notification shall state who the father of the child is, or state who the mother has named as the father of the child in the event that paternity has not yet been established.
“In cases where paternity has not yet been established or where the parents are not cohabiting, the notification of birth shall be sent both to the National Population Register and to the maintenance enforcement agency (makes decisions on child maintenance if the parents do not make a private agreement),” the statement explained.
In order that Ghana establishes a comprehensive and reliable National Identification Scheme (Database), the group believes it is not prudent to place the legal burden and consequences solely on the parent(s).
Stranek-Africa notes that although the Births and Deaths Registration Requirements and Procedures in Ghana requires parents to register their newly born babies not later than 12 months in the district where the birth occurred, the group recommends that “the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Health and the National Identification Authority introduce an incentive scheme to get parents to register the birth of their children, particularly those whose childbirth occurred outside the hospital, in the absence of a registered doctor or midwife or an unregistered healthcare facility or at home, children born to young mothers (between 15–19 years), children whose mothers have no formal education, mothers who reside in rural areas and mothers in the poorest wealth quintile.”