By Charles Etukuri
The Government on Tuesday, August 9, denied reports that Cabinet had resolved to scrap the current national identity cards and directed Ugandans to apply for new enhanced ones that meet the current technology trends.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, who was speaking to journalists at the launch of the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Month at the Uganda Media Centre, said he was not aware of the decision.
“Cabinet has not passed any resolution to scrap the current National IDs, ignore the tweet making such claims,” he said.
The minister was responding to social media claims, which indicated that Cabinet had resolved to scrap the national IDs, but Otafiire said the Cabinet meeting he attended on Monday did not discuss the matter.
The National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) executive director, Rosemary Kisembo, had earlier said no such decision had been taken.
NIRA is the government body tasked with, among other things, registration and distribution of identity cards.
In a tweet, NIRA said, “we would like to clarify that, there has not been any pronouncement to scrap off all current National IDs.”
Otafiire, however, said plans were underway to ensure that every Ugandan citizen obtains a new ID with new features after the expiry of the old ones.
The old ID cards that were issued in 2014 had a life span of 10 years and will expire in 2024.
The new features, Otafiire said, would include artificial intelligence, which means computer-aided identification of persons, as well as DNA profiles.
“We are in the process of migrating from the current national ID to a new upgraded and more user-friendly ID. This will also capture the new changes in technology and improve the quality of the IDs,” he said.
Otafiire revealed that the process of obtaining the new IDs will be free of charge and that the National Identification Number (NIN) will remain the same.
He, however, said they will introduce express services for those who do not want to go through the trouble of waiting too long.
“Those that can’t wait will be asked to pay a minimal fee of sh50,000,” Otafiire said.
He, however, maintained that an expiry date will be included in the new ID to accommodate new technological features that may arise in the future.
Kisembo said the process of registration of new IDs would start in 2023.