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Gov’t might take another 8 years before registering all Ugandans

The outgoing NIRA Executive Director Brig. Gen Stephen Kwiringira handing over office to Rosemary Kisembo at NIRA headquarters in Kololo. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government of Uganda will mostly likely take another eight years before issuing National Identification Numbers-NINs to all citizens.

The projection has been made by the newly appointed National Identification and Registration Authority-NIRA Executive Director Rosemary Kisembo as she assumed her new office at the authority’s headquarters in Kololo.

Kisembo who is an information technology expert says she made the estimate basing on several factors including staffing levels and means used to capture applications forms and transmission of data relating to the current population growth rate.

Although it is a requirement for all citizens to be registered and incorporated into the National Identification Register, available data indicates that NIRA has so far registered about 25 million citizens out of the estimated total population of over 42 million people.

Additionally, over 10 million Ugandans aged 16 and above registered with NIRA but have not accessed their National Identity Cards.

Besides registration of citizens, the authority whose leadership she has assumed is also performing poorly on the fronts of registering new birth, deaths, and aliens.

Brig. Gen Stephen Kwiringira, the outgoing acting executive director partly blames the inefficiency on the mode of operation and how NIRA began its work.

“Part of the problem is that we started with capturing, registering people for elections purposes yet ideally, I think we should have started with registering births,” says Kwiringira.

Kwiringira also points at the aging technology and equipment and low staffing levels at the organization. He says although the authority requires 820 staff members, it only has 50 percent of the number, which greatly limits the output.

Apart from low staffing levels, the authority cannot produce identity cards for the registered citizens given the fact that two out of the four printing machines are down.

According to the auditor general’s report, the two functioning machines have a production capacity of only 28 percent which slows efficiency and affects the production of the cards.

As one of the means to turn around the authority, Joseph Birobonwa, the NIRA board chairperson says they need to increase the number of staff and capitalize on decentralization, and automation of services to limit bureaucratic gaps that have been a breeding ground for soliciting bribes.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Jeje Odongo has also challenged the incoming Executive Director to look out for all possible means to ensure that the authority deliveries on its mandate. He stressed that government is tired of complaints regarding the poor services by NIRA.

In 2020, President Yoweri Museveni who was looking for a solution for problems faced by NIRA especially relating to the issuance of national identity cards, directed that the authority should be headed by a person with legal and information technology background.

It is with that background that Kisembo has been appointed, coming with extensive experience and multi skills in adopting relevant technologies for organizational transformation.

The new ED holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Information Systems from Makerere University and previously served as head of ICT at Uganda National Roads Authority-UNRA.

Before joining UNRA, she served at Uganda Revenue Authority -URA in the Corporate Services Department from 1995 until 2016.

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One comment

  1. Peterson Kato Kikomeko

    Great the incoming boss realizes it was a mistake not to start registering births, “Part of the problem is that we started with capturing, registering people for elections purposes yet ideally, I think we should have started with registering births,” says Kwiringira. I wonder how many children have been born since and are yet not registered to now and still counting. Capturing the births concurrently as you capture others shall save us lots of money.

    My humble request to the new boss is that since the IDs issued to many of us are soon expiring, PLEASE PLEASE devise a new National Identity Number (NIN) that someone can easily memorize. I foresee a future where the NIN shall be the one to guarantee access to even the basic services. So we need NINs that are memorizable.

    In some countries, they use someone’s birthdate and about five/six additional codes say for a born of today if he/she is the first to be registered in the system gets 1505202100001. Very few will forget that but the current NINs……

    Wish you luck

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