The attempt to build a national database of Ghanaians is long overdue. It is in this regard that efforts by the current NPP government to work towards a national database should receive support from all Ghanaians. According to the sixth edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, a database is “an organised set of data that is stored in a computer and can be looked at and used in various ways. This explains why it is significant for the government to begin the process of implementing a comprehensive national identification project.
It would be recalled that such a project began in 2009 on pilot basis and gradually covered the rest of the country, but the end result has not been satisfactory. This obviously has the necessitated current initiative of building a comprehensive national database of Ghanaians. The lapses in the earlier project can best be described as a grievous financial loss to the state with nobody being held responsible. The recent consultative meeting chaired by the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, with all the major stakeholders including the Births and Deaths Registry and the National Identification Authority is refreshing.
It gives an indication of the commitment to have a single national database to aid policy planning and implementation. Agencies like the Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Statistical Service, National Health Insurance Authority, Ghana Revenue Authority and National Development Planning Commission, Social Security and National Insurance Trust and Electoral Commission and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority also need to play pivotal role in the gathering of such data. It is significant to state that the National Identification Project is expected to be completed within the first year of the NPP administration. This will fulfill the NPP's manifesto pledge to complete the registration of all residents in Ghana under the National Identification Scheme.
Similarly, this move by the government will help establish an integrated data warehouse of databases from key public institutions, using the National Identification System as the unique identifier of data items, and automating the processes involved in accessing public services at both national and local government offices. During the consultative meeting with representatives of the key stakeholders, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said the NPP government was convinced that the National ID Scheme would help formalize the economy through the establishment of a national database.
Through the National Identification System as the primary identifier, government would be able to build linkages to the database of institutions such as the database of the Ghana Police Service, National Health Insurance Scheme, Passport Office, Ghana Immigration Service, Courts, Ghana Revenue Authority and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority.
No doubt the Vice President bemoaned the fact that there have been too much talk around the issue of national ID cards with very little effective action or results even though about $ 50 million of the tax payer’s money has been spent on the project since its implementation in 2009. There is no gainsaying that a single national ID System would among others, track immunization of children and health care of citizens, issue drivers’ licenses and passports linked to digital identity registry, eliminate ghost names from civil and public payroll system, as well as reduce cost of maintaining multiple identity database.
All Ghanaians need to get on board to support the government’s desire to build a national database of all citizens.
By Dan Osman Mwin, Head of Public Relations of the Ministry of Education.