You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2003 06 23Article 38098

Opinions of Monday, 23 June 2003

Columnist: Frempong, Kwadwo

Electoral Commision Is Not The Right Body For Nation Id Cards System

One very thorny issue that seems to engulf Ghana’s electoral process every time is the efficiency and reliability of the Register. In the wave of debates about what the best way could be there has been heated debates between the national Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Integration as to who was and is constitutionally responsible for this job.

The reason why I have waited so look to react having a right as a Ghanaian and a Technology Expert is to finish my investigation and research as to the best way we can all help Ghana. The latest announcement by the EC has really surprised me and I have to come out to speak. I just quoted a section of the press release from the Indefatigable Ghanaweb. The most interesting portion is “THE exercise to compile a new voters’ register as well as issue new voter identity cards to replace the existing ones has been fixed for September this year, at a tentative cost of about ?100 billion. The new register will, for the first time, be embossed with the photographs of voters to prevent impersonation during any election in the country. It will also be used alongside the ID cards. It is expected to be ready for use by the first quarter of next year, barring any hitches.

Nana Kofi Karikari, Senior Electoral Officer, Public Affairs, of the Electoral Commission (EC), who disclosed this in an interview in Accra yesterday, said the government has been served with a comprehensive budget on the exercise and added that the EC is awaiting its response.

He said the new register would have some security features, which will ensure that it is not bloated for people to have confidence in it. Nana Karikari said the commission will expect all eligible voters to patronise the exercise to have their photos taken for the new register and ID cards since the old ones will cease to exist after the new ones are compiled.”

I have always said that Ghana being a HIPC country needs to get things right and the first time because our financial position means we cannot afford making mistakes.

My view is mainly with the money we are planning to spend and for sure we will spend more come the next time. Technology goes with time and age; you go for it when its young and you will be assured of less fraud all things being equal.

This article will address the debate as to who should be responsible for the ID cards and then the money and the use of the ID cards.

The debate about ID cards still rages on in Britain and US after the September 11 terrorist attack in US. The industrialised countries have moved from simple ID cards for elections to ID to help stop crime, fraud and others, which I will go deep into.

Ghana professing to be an HIPIC country should not rush to provide ID cards to the whole population without adequate research and debate.

ID Cards and Politics:

The debate about ID card should be devoid of partisan politics and entrenched positions. The minority’s strong stands against any other organisation providing the Id card other than the EC and their Arguments that the EC needs 100billion Cedis as compared to the governments proposed ID card linked to “Development” costing 400billion Cedis to me is based on mistrust amongst the political parties, independence of Public institutions, lack of consensus building and inadequate education on the government side and ignorance as well as lack of political will and the fear and magnanimity to take risk by public officers.

The Government should explain clearly to everyone its intension about the us of the ID card, how the plans will be execute in a very transparent and welcoming as well as convincing way to get the backing of al and sundry.

We need an ID card that can serve multiply purposes, check Tax Returns, changes of address, obtaining civil records, statistical data, declaration and management of birth certificates and health and insurance schemes.

The argument is that when we go for this type of ID card, we do not need any more funds when we introduce schemes to clean the data base systems in the country. When there are deaths and the system could be cleaned at source not electoral commission, which will automatically make their cards invalid and people reaching voting age, will be seen on the cards and the data system will reflect as such.

The police can easily trace criminals whether first offenders or not, tax evasions etc.

EC and ID CARDS

For me the Electoral commission and the government of Ghana as well as the populace should know that if we go ahead to order the ID cards just for elections 2004 by spending 100 Billion Cedis, we are wasting the money because voter ID with pictures will not last, How long can Pictures on papers last? We will need more money to clean the voters Register after Four years because of deaths, and more people reaching voting age. The Technology being mooted by the EC is almost dead and it will come back to haunt us. The EC has not got the right human resource to help them collect data, and its pathetic the fact that the whole country does not value Research and Development Departments. Our data system is none existent and that will come up again and again as to whether our electoral figures are bloated or genuine.

Ghana and the Belgian Example.

SchlumbergerSema, a business unit of Schlumberger Limited (NYSE: SLB), today announced its participation in the Belgian Personal Identity Card (BelPIC) - the first large-scale deployment of electronic identity cards in Europe - through its product range and expertise in secure systems and solutions dedicated to government projects. This smart card, the size of a credit card, will give Belgian citizens simpler, faster and more secure access to administrative procedures from the first half of 2003. As the first country in the European Union to supply its entire population with a "citizen card", to be the sole identity card, Belgium is leading the way in the adoption of new technologies within the public sector", emphasized Olivier Piou, president, SchlumbergerSema Products. The smart card constitutes the ideal security platform for offering easy access to e-government services. It not only gives people reassurance concerning their privacy but also provides a practical, scalable and flexible approach to securing networked IT systems.

To further combat fraud, a number of technological advances in the physical characteristics of both the card and chip software have made counterfeiting even more difficult.

Approximately 11 million cards will be produced and distributed to Belgian citizens over the next five years, with an initial phase covering 11 municipalities spread throughout the country, due to begin in the 2nd quarter of 2003. This new card can be used with a card reader connected to a PC - for example in people's homes - in public kiosks installed in towns, in local authority buildings and in other institutions.

Citizens will be able to access numerous e-government services, such as:

  • - Access to electronic voting (e-voting), and in particular local consultation by e-referendum
  • - Tax returns
  • Changes of address
  • Obtaining civil records
  • Declaration of household employees
  • Declaration and management of birth certificates.
All I want the stakeholders in the ID card debate to understand is that the electoral commission is not the right body, the debate as it stands now is too partisan, and the government of the NPP and its ministry of regional Integration that mooted the ID card Idea have not explained the purpose to all and sundry. We should suspend the latest additions to the present ID cards, till we are sure what we want and can go for the Belgium Example by first improving our data base system, make the ministry of birth and death more responsible, very clean and efficient with reliable staff and inept staff. One person can not have four birth certificates and the call by the head of Civil Service Dr Glover Quartey that people want to change their date birth is an example of Our weak data system and an one and for all approach to the ID cards issue. This can answer the question as to the debate of over age players of our junior national teams as well as, whether Edward Ansah is 40 years or 50 years as his presence in our national Team has raised an outcry. All I want to say is the right ID cards and correct data system will serve all encompassing purposes.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.