NIA resolves technical challenges

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The National Identification Authority (NIA) says it has resolved the technical glitch which prevented it from rolling out the registration for and issuance of the Ghana Card on May 28, 2018.

The acting Executive Secretary of the NIA, Professor Ken Agyemang Attafuah, told journalists that the problem was resolved in the afternoon of last Wednesday and indicated that more than 500 people had since been registered and issued with their cards.

Asked when NIA officials should be expected on the field, he said: “We are ready and we will get into the community, and when we get into the community, you will know. We shall be like the leper who was cleansed by Jesus. When that happened, Christ said to him: ‘Go and show yourself to the priest.’”

He said the NIA would make an announcement on the schedule for the registration exercise and dismissed suggestions that the technical glitch had been a sabotage.

“You must have a solid evidential basis to suggest conspiracy. I have none with respect to what happened last Sunday evening. I believe it was just a technical glitch and so when we put our shoulders to the wheel and applied our best intellect, we found what was the problem and we solved it,” he said.


Cost breakdown

The Ghana Card project is being undertaken under a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement between the NIA and Identity Management Systems Ghana Limited (IMS), a subsidiary of the Margins ID Group.

Within the mass registration and card issuance period, the NIA is committed to spending US$124 million, representing 42 per cent of the total cost of US$293.6 million, while the private partner, IMS, is committed to providing US$169 million, representing 58 per cent.

The US$124 million was the full cost for the NIA for the first year of the project and it covered operations in both Ghana and abroad to register and issue cards to 30 million Ghanaians, a statement issued by Prof. Attafuah explained.

Cost breakdown for NIA

The NIA’s cost of $124 million will be spent on the Central Site (AFIS), Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), Multi-Personalisation System, Card Management System, Upgrading of the NIA Data Centre from Tier II level to Tier III level, procurement of disaster recovery system, procurement of two MX-6100 card printers for 2-D bar code cards, procurement of additional 2-D bar code cards and training of over 70,000 field operators for 12 operational regions.

Other areas where the amount will be spent are the deployment of and compensation for 12,000 field operators for 12 operational regions, issuance of 9.2 million 2-D bar code ID cards to Ghanaian children under 15 years, procurement of 65 operational vehicles and 60 motorbikes, procurement of two 350-KVA generator sets for the

Data Centre, procurement of 1,600 generator sets for field operations, procurement of sundry registration materials and consumables, provision of mass communications and information services, insurance for NIA personnel, vehicles and equipment, refurbishment of NIA Headquarters building and administrative expenses.

Cost breakdown for IMS

The statement said the cost of $169 million for the IMS would be spent on designing and building the technical platforms for verification, providing technical field operational support for the over 25,000 NIA registration centres across the country, providing consumables for personalisation with 1,100 data card printers and providing 2,500 mobile registration workstations.

The amount will also be spent on providing main communications integration system, providing web services for stakeholders, providing online registration and payment portal, providing 500 card issuance and verification hardware and software and providing 16.2 million dual-interface smart cards (148K) with 14 applets for stakeholders.

15-year cost breakdown

For the projected US$1.2 billion cost for the 15-year life cycle of the PPP, the NIA’s full cost of US$531 million will be paid for under the revenue model. This cost includes the setting up and running regional offices, as well as zonal and district offices, across the country, the payment of compensation for NIA staff, the production of 37.2 million 2D bar code cards and the running cost of the authority in general.

This amount is inclusive of the $124 million to be paid by the State in the first year.

On the part of the IMS, its full cost over the 15-year period will be $690 million, also to be paid for by the revenue model. This cost includes the cost of upgrading the technical system every five years, maintenance and the production of 52.2 million smart cards.

This amount includes the $169.9 million to be borne by the IMS in the first year.

The statement said 90,823,235 cards would be produced and issued to Ghanaians, both home and abroad, over the 15 years.

The stated figure includes cards that will be re-issued, replaced and renewed.

Agyapong’s allegations

Prof. Attafuah refuted allegations of corruption, thievery and fraud levelled against him by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Mr Kennedy Agyapong, in relation to the award of the contract to IMS and said the accusation could only be motivated by “ignorance, confusion and/or needless malice”.

He said the claim that he awarded the contract to IMS in exchange for a piece of land to build a property was falsity because while the house in question was built between September 2009 and December 2011, the contract between the NIA and the IMS was executed on April 16, 2018.

Mr Agyapong, on many occasions, has claimed to have personally led an Indian firm to bid for the contract to roll out the NIS and the Ghana Card project at a cost of $50 million only, a cost which, he said, would have represented only a fraction of what the government was being asked to pay.

However, Prof. Attafuah said Mr Agyapong did not appear to be familiar with the cost implications of the project and explained that the IMS was selected following government’s acceptance of the key recommendations of a 16-member Technical Committee established by the Vice-President to develop a road map for implementing the NIS project.

Why IMS was selected

He said in the course of its work, the committee granted audience to 15 prospective solutions providers and the World Bank Group (acting in an advisory capacity) to present their potential solutions and to share with the committee their knowledge and experiences on relevant international best practices.

“One such entity was India-based Madras Security Printing, which was presented by Mr Agyapong. As with all entities, the committee made it clear that it was neither receiving bids nor evaluating proposals or awarding contracts; it was merely an advisory body trying to understand what options for solution might be available to the government for reviving Ghana’s NIS,” Prof. Attafuah said.

He said the committee concluded that there already existed a turnkey solution that supported the instant issuance of multi-purpose smart cards that met technical requirements with what the IMS was already doing with the Foreigner Identification Management Systems (FIMS) Project developed by the company for the NIA in 2012.

He added that copies of the contract were then distributed to all 275 MPs in March 2018 and the contract was not signed until April 16, 2018.

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