The Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi says that there will not be any payment by Ugandans for acquisition of National Identity Cards, even where they seek to make changes.
Muhoozi also says that even for the planned renewal exercise, Ugandans will not be required to pay; it is foreigners who seek the provision of alien cards that will pay.
The clarification comes at after time sections of the public questioned a proposal indicating that it would be a requirement for citizens to pay a yet to be determined fee to acquire National IDs.
The move was also opposed by a section of MPs who argued that National IDs are a right and that commercializing their issuance would not be good for Ugandans who are still struggling to recover from the effects of Covid-19.
Bwiire Nadeeba, the Bulamogi questioned the commercialization of issuance of Identity cards. He said that there are people who cannot even earn 50,000 Shillings a month.
“There are people who cannot even earn 50,000 Shillings a month. The moment money is involved, they will make it optional and yet security experts need the document to ensure safety of the country,” said Bwiire Nadeeba, the Bulamogi MP.
Iddi Isabirye, Bunya South MP also said that the issuance of National IDs for any reason should be free of charge to Ugandans. Dr. Isamat Abraham, the Kapir County MP also shares the same sentiment.
“The issue of National ID should be free of charge as our constituents cannot afford to pay for the cards, so the position should be that IDs should be free of charge,” Isamat says.
Florence Kabugho, the Kasese Woman MP says that Ugandans should be given a privilege to enjoy their citizenship and not charge them money to access National IDs.
She said that most people cannot afford money to feed later on pay for an ID.
In his statement to Parliament on Thursday, Gen. Muhoozi justified the expiry and renewal process of national IDs by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) which is scheduled to undertake a Mass enrolment and renewal exercise beginning January 2023 at a cost of 430.73 billion Shillings.
The exercise targets registration of the remaining 17.2 million unregistered citizens, substitution of National ID cards upon expiry in 2024 and upgrade of Citizen National ID Card to a Smart Card (e-ID, and creation of the Personal Digital ldentity).
The exercise will also see the upgrade of the identification system and integration of the recognition biometric technology and DNA in the NIRA system, aliens registration, substitution of aged registration kits and implementation of Business Continuity for the National Security and Identification System.
“There are 17.2 million Ugandans who have never been registered -an average of 1,623 persons unregistered per parish. Of the 1,623, it is assumed that 50% (8l2) are above 18 years and 812 are below 18 years. Of the 812 below 18 years, it is assumed that 50% are below seven years and therefore will not have biometrics taken. It is assumed urbanized areas may have up to 2000 people per parish and rural areas between 800 -1000 persons,” reads part of Muhoozi’s statement.
Section 69 (a) of the Registration of Persons Act, provides that, a National Identification Card shall be valid for such time as the Minister shall prescribe by regulation.
Under Regulation 19(1) of the Registration of Persons Regulations, a Notional ldentification Card shall be valid for a period of ten years from the date of issue and shall be renewable in accordance with set regulations. Furthermore, Regulation 23 (1) provides that a holder of a national identification card shall apply to the Authority in a prescribed form for renewal of at least two months before the expiry of the card.
“The first batch of National ldentity cards totaling to 15.8 million were printed and issued out during the National Security and Information Systems Project in the financial year 2014/2015 and will expire between August 2024 and June 2025 which justifies the requirement for renewal,” says Muhoozi.
The Mass renewal and enrolment exercise will cover 70,626 villages, 10,595 parishes, 2,184 sub-counties and 146 districts.
He reveals that the security features on the polycarbonate material used to make ID cards deteriorate progressively and are severely compromised after 10 years and that the biometric features used in the identification significantly transform over time for example, children getting IDs at 16 will look different at 26.
Muhoozi also notes that NIRA seeks to take advantage of strides in technology that will increase portability and verification to support global transactions and the exercise will improve accuracy and credibility of register for planning and improved service delivery.
The exercise will see recruitment of temporary staff to handle several activities. The projected temporary staff will be 141,252 of village level representing two staff per village. Every parish will have a supervisor, with on overall coordinator of sub county level. NIRA District staff are planned to provide overall supervision, monitoring and reporting of the exercise.
Each applicant who is renewing shall fill and sign a renewal Form online, which shall be verified against the existing information in the National identification Register after which a new card will be printed and issued.