In 1973 national identity cards were issued to citizens in the border regions of Ghana including Volta, Northern, Upper (East and West), Brong Ahafo, and parts of the Western Region. The project was however discontinued three years later due to problems with logistics and lack of financial support. This was the first time the idea of national identification systems arose.
Again, in 1987, the Government of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) through the National Commission for Democracy (NCD), revisited the national identity card concept by establishing several committees including a Technical Implementation Committee. Due to economic difficulties, the issue was not pursued.
Once again, in 2001, when the National Economic Dialogue was convened, the National Identification System (NIS) was seen as a major policy concern. As a result, a multisectoral Technical Committee consisting of stakeholder organisations was established to do the following:
- Study and review the 1991 National Identification report;
- Establish the main principles and the conceptual procedures for an integrated national identification system for Ghana;
- Identify and recommend specific technologies for such a system; and
- Develop a plan of action and a time framefor the implementation of the system
The Technical Committee completed its assignment in the year 2002 and submitted a report to Cabinet.
The report was accepted but it had to form a basis for the Government and State to:
- Cover all citizens including legally resident non Ghanaians;
- Help with crime prevention, healthcare, welfare services, disaster management;
- Assist in the delivery of public services to targeted populations, banking services;
- Create a credible voters register, social security;
- Check the application and acquisition of passports and drivers’ licences;and Aid with increased revenue collection.
By 2003, the National identification Secretariat was set up by government to implement and manage the National Identification System (NIS).The Act establishing the National Identification Authority was passed in 2006, with Prof. Ernest Dumor appointed as the Executive Secretary.
Under his tenure of administration, the NIA was able acquire a host of logistical items required for institutional building of the NIA. The Authority was able to acquire 1,510 Mobile Registration Workstations for the mass registration exercise which came with chargers and batteries from the NIA’s technical partner Sagem Securite’ from France.
Pick-up trucks, vans and civilian buses were also procured for the mass registration exercise. Drivers for these vehicles were also recruited, interviewed and selected. Materials like cartridges, registration forms and writing materials were also acquired. Individuals were recruited, trained and selected as Mobile Registration Workstation Operators.
The National Identification Authority’s Head Office was also built and ninety-seven per cent (97%) of the building completed.A pilot mass registration exercise was held to test the forms and equipment deployed for the exercise as well as the registration process as outlined by the Authority. This pilot registration exercise took place in two communities, Abokobi and Sege, both located in the Greater Accra Region, for ten (10) days from July 27, 2007 to August 4, 2009.
The testing selection and training of staff for the Central and Western Regions were also executed successfully, with mass registration taking off in the Central Region on July 1, 2008.
By the end of July 2008, Prof. Kenneth Attafuah was appointed as the Executive Secretary and oversaw the execution of mass registration in the Western, Eastern and Volta Regions between August 2008 and July 2009.
On July 22, 2009, Dr. William Ahadzie began his appointment as the Executive Secretary. He is currently preparing to execute the mass registration in the Greater Accra Region. He also has been very involved in the process to establish the National Identification System even before the inception of the National Identification Authority.