SLENA, 24th March, 2022 – The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday ratified an Agreement for the production of multipurpose identity cards for the development of Sierra Leone.
The following Agreement was ratified by Parliament:
Agreement for the production and issuance of securitized multipurpose identity cards ( National, Non-National & ECOWAS), ID Verification System and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) and Constrat Systems Sierra Leone Limited
Presenting the Agreement, the Minister of Internal Affairs, David Panda Noah spoke about the mandate of the NCRA Act, in light of the production of identity cards and other important duties. He informed that the Institution has registered several people.
The Minister also told Parliament that NCRA, was building the capacity of personnel, in order to meet the demand and other related required supports were on course. According to the Minister, the following identity cards would be produced: National, Non-National and ECOWAS identity cards. The identity cards, he said would serve many purposes including accessing banking, National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NaSSIT) amongst others. The development the Minister said would help the authorities to track criminals, development purpose and other related matters. He emphasized that the identity cards would help in many ways. With this identification and registration, the Minister said data management would be enhanced and informed that NCRA had registered 5.9million people on their data base. He also stated that the Agreement has no implication on the State and government would also benefits.
The NCRA, he said is on massive awareness regarding same and went on to assure Parliament on the confidentiality and privacy of users.
Contributing to the debate, Chairman of Internal Affairs Committee, Hon. Alusine Kanneh said his colleague MPs were au-fait with the development, regarding the identity processing adding that, they have been waiting for the identity cards. He informed that identification of this nature would help citizens to identify and curb out criminality as well as helping people to travel across ECOWAS countries.
On his part, Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara said the identity cards would help the people to go through services. He recalled bad incidences related to criminal impersonation, adding that the Agreement would address some of the similarity problems « With this one, I am sure would address justice related issues, » he stated. However, he raised concerns over the price of the National Identity Card, Le75,000 as exorbitant for ordinary people. He also informed that the attachment of the National Identification Number would ease the process of passport issuance.
Hon. Sahr Charles said having a national identification card is prudent and recalled the process from the past government and commended the current government for continuity. He also told the Minister to look into the pricing for the people and spoke about the decentralization of the system to ease accessibility. He appreciated the production of the identity. He said they would want to see other features in the identity cards especially for students and ease tracking criminals and other benefits. He said the country has been far behind for this kind of development.
Hon. Joseph William Lamin described the day as very important, relating the identification to benchmarking. He informed that they are coming to have a reputable identification. He spoke about confidentiality of the process, in light of protection. The MP informed that NCRA has registered 5.9million people, adding that it was very significant and spoke about the uniqueness of the identity cards as well as duration and cost. He informed that the job was well done and it was a merit for the government scorecard.
Hon. Wuyata Songa highlighted the inter relation between identification and security, referencing a recent incidence that affected her.
Leader of Opposition, Hon. Chernor R.M. Bah said the identification system had been a process from the past government to present. He informed that Agreement is necessary but decried the huge cost of the transaction especially for the ECOWAS identity card and pleaded on the Minister to do the needful for the people of Sierra Leone.
Concluding the debate, the Acting Leader of Government Business, Hon. Bashiru Silikie said the Agreement is not controversial and supported the Opposition Leader’s submission for the fees for the National ID card and highlighted the other cost of national ID cards in the Sub-Region relating to pricing. The Acting Leader highlighted the importance of the National ID Card when it comes to operations .He called for decentralization of the production of the National ID Card.
In another development, Parliament has also ratified the following Agreements :
1. Air services Agreement between the Government of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone
2. Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
3. Memorandum of Understanding between the Aeronautical Authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Sierra Leone
4. Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and
5. Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Sierra Leone and Federal Republic of Nigeria.