Ghanacard for non-citizens
Identity Management Systems

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The National Identification Authority (NIA) was set up in 2006 by Act 707 with the mandate to issue national ID cards and generally manage the National Identification System (NIS). The NIA embarked on Round Table discussions and collaborations with various organisations (both public and private) to ensure that the mandate of the Authority was reliably executed. A National Data Centre has been built and also houses the NIA Headquarters. However, financial challenge has slowed the pace of implementation of the National ID project. That had also become a cash-burner due to a centralized printing design that required a minimum of 2 field visits to firstly register and secondly distribute cards. Other technical challenges had delayed data processing while changes in technology and an evolved stakeholder needs (many of which had graduated to smartcards option from the 2-D bar code cards that were specified in the original NIA project) in the intervening years had rendered the registration equipment and standard of information obsolete. As a result, less than 1 million cards had been distributed to Ghanaians out of a total of 15 million who had been registered in an exercise that started 6 years ago. This inability or delay to deliver to the whole of the population also has led to a proliferation of separate identity systems by different institutions at high social and financial cost to the nation. In addition, Ghana is an emerging destination for many foreign nationals due to its relative success story of economic growth, political stability and discovery of new natural resources such as oil. There was the need for Ghana to provide an enabling environment for long term investors to reside and be recognized on a consistent basis while safeguarding the country and its reputation from international criminals through the development of a foreign nationals’ ID card system. These lack of verifiable identification system for foreigners meant that institutions could be defrauded by foreigners who could then easily return to their home countries. It also raised the levels of mistrust especially towards those from the ECOWAS sub-region. Despite the obvious need for a robust identification system, severe resource constraints and competing priorities did not provide any immediate prospect of sustainable funding.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Government of Ghana (GoG) faced with challenges in funding infrastructure development and public service delivery has sought to encourage the use of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) as a means of leveraging public resources with private sector resources and expertise in order to close the infrastructure gap and deliver efficient public services. As NIA did not have the relevant resources to fulfill its mandate of registering Ghanaians and foreigners on an upgraded biometric smartcard platform, we identified the project as an ideal candidate for Public Private Partnership (PPP). Intelligent Card Production Systems (ICPS) a majority Ghanaian-owned secure card solutions provider in partnership with its Danish counterpart International Danish Financial Group (IDFG) proposed to incorporate a special purpose vehicle (SPV), FIMS Ghana Limited. The promoters of the SPV, ICPS - proposed to invest $24.8 million to implement a Foreigners Identification and Management System (FIMS) – to collect biographic and biometric data of foreign residents in a clean database and produce secure biometric ID cards, securely connect relevant public and private institutions to the national Identity database held by NIA, verify positively the identities of people, and to ensure security of database and privacy of individuals data and prevent identity theft. We presented a PPP solution to the Ministry of Finance and the Board and Management of NIA. The solution was designed to reduce the financial burden on the government and get NIA to get working again with the objective of turning it from an unsustainable cost center to a revenue center capable to undertaking its mandate. Due to the scale of the project an initial PPP pilot to address the pressing issue of the foreigner population identification was proposed. Under the proposal, the private partner, i.e. Identity Management Systems Ltd (IMS), which was previously named FIMS, Designed, Built, Financed, Operate and will Transfer the technical infrastructure to NIA. De-duplication and the issuance of Non-citizen Ghana cards for foreigners would be issued in real time. This proposal was to be sustainable via a fee-paying revenue model that run on the back of a transparent payment platform that allowed instant reconciliation between both parties. In exchange, NIA will receive a license fee of $2 million (upon the registration of 500,000 non-citizens). The solution was to either party to focus on their strengths to deliver mutual benefits. In this regard, NIA would undertake public education and ensure multi-sectoral compliance while IMS was to focus on delivering a technical system and operate the registration sites. The solution was designed to be sustainable to having a revenue model that is underpinned by law; an asset upgrade cycle that is contractual. The main objectives were i) To collect biographic and biometric data of foreign residents in a clean database, ii) To produce secure biometric identity cards, securely connect relevant public and private institutions to the NIA’s database iii) To verify positively the identities of people, to ensure people are who they claim and reduce the threat posed by undocumented foreigners iv) Use data for policy development and planning v) To generate sustainable profits for the private partner and a sustainable source of revenue to NIA vi) To use the cards to promote social and financial inclusion and Target Audiences • Non-citizens residents in Ghana • Ghanaians (particular those who work with foreigners) • State institutions - from the Ministry of Interior; Ghana Immigration Service; NIA; Ministry of Finance; National Security; Parliament, Financial Intelligence Centre, Bank of Ghana, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Representatives from these target audience were also represented on the Oversight Committee that oversaw the implementation of the project.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
This was unique in the country as it was the first identification biometric project where an advanced form of technology that included the capture of ten fingerprints, faces and instant verification from the database in real time for the instant issuance of a National ID card had been deployed. The solution was developed at no cost to NIA but has rather generated revenues for the organization. NIA receives payments in the form of regular license fees and royalties on the achievement of pre-determined thresholds. The system was also designed to be customer friendly as it allowed the mobile registration of applicants. The system is to be renewed every 5 years to keep abreast with changes in the fast-moving ICT environment. Scale of stakeholder engagement was unique in the level of consultation and information sharing in order to promote transparency. An example of the project transparency is daily electronic sharing of information on cards sold and registrations made to key stakeholders with vested interest.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
An implementation plan was developed to deliver key technical, human resources, operational and stakeholder/communication goals. Key strategic considerations were i) stakeholder ii) data security iii) operational & technical capacity iv) financial sustainability v) supplier partnership vi) customer service Stakeholder Buy-in - It was identified from the onset that communication and stakeholder buy-in was critical to the success of the project. In this respect, a condition precedent that contractually obligated and financially allocated resources to communications for the first year of implementation was specified. This involved public education, stakeholder engagement, development of communication material and payments to print, digital television and radio media. This spanned the entire duration of first year operations with a feedback loop to inform subsequent decision-making. Data Security - The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) with a capacity of million records was installed at the headquarters of NIA. This was to address the issue of data security by giving NIA visible control of the data repository and to allay any misgivings of data in the hands of the private partner. The registration kit was also designed to only allow fingerprint sign-in and to prevent the insertion of any data-capture hardware. This was to manifestly limit the role of IMS to that of a data collection entity. Operational & Technical Strategy - This involved establishing an SPV solely for the purpose of registering foreigners on behalf of NIA. The strategy was to develop an entity with the required capacity to undertake its operational responsibilities. A completely new system without the challenges of the existing system and capable of delivering desired standards and needs of stakeholders was designed and installed at the premises of NIA. The registration kits were also designed, tested and delivered in time for the project start-off date. This was done in phases in line with the gradual build-up of demand to ensure operational efficiency. Key staff were also recruited in time to set up the necessary internal processes, systems and train operational staff prior to implementation. Supplier Partnership – Key considerations in this relationship were timeliness of support, reputation and value for money. Given that IMS was a new entity, these considerations were critical in minimizing the risk of failure. We approached a number of potential partners and selected a partner with a proven record of global experience and brand and had experience in solving technical issues on NIA’s legacy systems. In addition, the business model of decentralized printing of cards required the selection of a partner that could deliver robust printers for fieldwork and provide timely supply of replacement parts. Overall, our partnership model was driven by the party best willing to align its commercial interest and technical strengths with our business at an affordable risk premium. Financial Sustainability – This involved designing a project budget for implementation to be affordable and complete to pay for all the key activities required for implementation. It also looked at the revenue assumptions to ensure and assure investors and creditors of the financial sustainability of the project. Customer Service – This was to ensure customer satisfaction with our services through simplicity, speed and convenience. In this respect, we developed a social media platform, an online presence (including webchat) where foreigners could learn more about the project and even complete their application forms online prior to coming to the registration centre. We also set up a call centre to address any concerns or questions arising. To deliver convenience, we set up mobile registration capability to register foreigners at their preferred locations thus saving them travel time and lost productivity.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Stakeholder engagement has been critical for the success project through development to implementation. National Security and Financial Intelligence Centre provided justification for the project based on their knowledge of the threats posed by foreigners and citizens alike in the country. Consultations were made with the key ministries responsible for non-citizens (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MoFARI), the Ghana Immigration Services (GIS) to design a project that was consistent with their strategic goals and international practice regarding migration. Following the design of the project, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) undertook a review of the business case and recommended for approval to the PPP Approval Committee. This committee was made up of representatives from bodies like the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Ministry of Trade, National Development Planning Commission, Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and chaired by the Minister of Finance. The contract document was assessed by the Attorney-General’s Office leading to the approval of the partnership. Members of Parliament were also then engaged to pass the necessary Legislative Instruments to bring into law the relevant sections of the agreement necessary to drive demand for the project. The media also played a crucial role in providing the platform for public education and posing questions to educate the public while safeguarding public interest. Lastly, the diplomatic community and association groups of immigrant communities were sensitized about the project and the project rationale.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
A resource plan based on the estimated target of 500,000 registrations was developed. Nevertheless, the project has been innovative in managing its cost. The main cost components were • Capital Cost - Technical System (including licenses) • Operational & Human Cost • Finance Costs Technical Infrastructure – A total of $24.8 million was budgeted for the capital expenditure of project. This comprised of development cost, AFIS cost, 400 Mobile Registration Workstations, Software Licenses. Financing Cost – An amount of $3 million (payable over 3 years) has been raised through a local banking partner at an interest rate 12% plus a commission on every card sold on our behalf. Operational & Human Cost– These included the cost of consumables (including the initial 2-D bar code cards and its subsequent replacement smartcard dual interface cards) and initial amount of $500,000 for public education & stakeholder engagement. It also included set-up, mobilization and staff (including consultants) cost. Altogether, these were estimated to cost an additional $10 million. Project financing came from 3 main sources namely: • Debt financing – An amount of $3 million was raised as part of the local debt funding component. • Equity – Equity providers from the shareholders of the parent companies of ICPS and IDFG totalling • Suppliers’ credit – The project secured assets on credit from some of its suppliers for commencement The project has focused on achieving allocative efficiency by aligning cashflow liabilities with actual revenues, and designing a draw-down plan with our suppliers that is linked to actual demand or agreed timeline – whichever came first. This has led to an immediate and affordable liability for 50 MRWs, with the outstanding 350 MRWs to be drawn down at a later date (when it would have made enough revenues) or driven by demand. These funding provisions were to enable commencement of the project. Future project revenues would then be applied to fund subsequent initiatives. The project has however faced a number of unbudgeted cost items particularly in relation to supporting GIS scan and digitize its database. We have also and set up a registration centre at its Headquarters to issue cards for all resident permit applicants. In addition, we are working with GIS to develop innovative solutions to improve its database and share such data with the project for the mutual benefits of the mandated institutions. On the other hand, the project also made a number of innovative cost-savings during actual implementation through sharing the facilities and other assets of our Banking partner and Ghana Immigration Service at a cheaper cost to the project while at the same time improving the net financial position of these partners.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Output 1 - Feasibility studies The feasibility report that underpinned the basis of the project was critical to the project. It established the need, options and the suitability of the project to be undertaken via a PPP. It developed demand model based on credible research from credible sources and established the financial viability of the project. It allowed for the sharing of information between key parties and promoted trust between the parties. It also provided the basis for approval by the Ministry in charge of PPPs that reviewed and tested the underlying assumptions within the context of overall need of the project to the nation. In addition, the feasibility identified key risks to the project and provided the basis of risk-sharing. The feasibility also provided the basis for securing the local component of financing from the local banking partner who brought additional rigour to the process prior to financing. Output 2 - Stakeholder engagement - Copenhagen Agreement Another key output was the signing of Copenhagen Agreement that was developed and signed following a study mission on PPPs in Denmark hosted by Danish Industry (DI). The signatories were a cross-section of the key political parties and stakeholders that had direct interaction with foreigners in Ghana. This secured their commitment to the project and support for the process. Output 3 - Contract The actual PPP Contract has been vital for the success of the project. It was designed to avoid the pitfall of traditional procurement contracts while ensuring delivery of a technical system to meet international standards and industry while ensuring a whole life asset approach through a 5-year replacement cycle. This replacement cycle also allows for flexibility in the contract to preserve value-for-money objectives. Output 4 - Legislative Instruments The development and passage of a Legislative Instruments that specifies the mandatory transactions that require a card and associated fees (pre-determined by business case) has stabilized the pricing model that has been petitioned for reductions by different interest groups Output 5 – Instantly Issued Cards This output of instantly issued card has provided assurance to NIA that the technical solution was economic and efficient. This decentralized form of card issuance following real-time de-duplication is now the trigger for the ongoing negotiation to expand the scope of the project to cover all nationals to enable NIA fully deliver its mandate.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Monitoring and Evaluation under the project has been designed to improve performance management. Information captured from monitoring activities are designed to confirm our priorities; check progress, communicate progress and to compel progress. We have therefore developed systems and processes to support our M&E activities in a cost-effective and timely manner. Firstly, the project has developed key measures – most of which are captured in the Service Level Agreement to give it a contractual bite. Some of the performance indicators include fault resolution period, system capacity (speed & size), renewal compliance rate, stakeholder enforcement, staff performance and delivery of technical standards. A key system is our Oracle SQL data base that allows the real-time monitoring of registration and sales performance. This information is shared daily and promotes transparency caused by performance communication. It allows the stakeholders to follow trends in registration statistics and the socio-economic status of applicants including countries of origin. For example, a revealing statistic shows that there are 184 nationalities living in Ghana – something that was previously unknown. Real time monitoring also allows the project to react to any risk in quick time. In addition, the project undertakes daily Site Reports to monitor all registration sites to compel and communicate performance. These daily reports address other issues relating to staff and asset performance, operational challenges. Statistics such as faults, operator errors, attendance, customer incidents are captured in this report for decision-making at the appropriate management levels. For the lower level staff, this report also confirms the priorities of the project and minimizes deviant behaviours. We also track customer experiences from the point of registration and use of cards. In this respect, we have a customer questionnaire to be completed by customers on completion of their registration detailing their experiences and source of information regarding the project. This monitors the effectiveness of our communication strategy and media habits of applicants. In addition, we have a customer service call center where challenges faced by foreigners in the use of their cards are reported and followed up by our Enforcement team. An end of year evaluation report on the performance of the project based on the findings from our monitoring is submitted to key stakeholders for appraisal and strategy development by key decision makers including government ministers.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main challenge has been the lack of a PPP law (despite a policy document) to empower public entities to discharge their obligations under the partnership. Public institutions are governed by procurement and financial administration laws that limits their flexibility to match the pace of private partners. This slows the implementation of key activities and undermines private sector efficiencies. One innovative way overcoming this challenge is to include the cost of PPP obligations and expected revenues to be generated under the normal budgetary approval application. Another major challenge has been the lack of multi-sectoral enforcement due to organizational rivalry and confusion. In this respect, despite the numbers of foreigners living in Ghana, the demand has been lower than expected due to non-enforcement and the acceptance of other forms of identification. We have engaged with key stakeholders particularly Bank of Ghana and Ghana Immigration Service. The banks have since issued a directive to accept the card with the view of making it the only recognized card for banking identification. We also undertook a special digitization project in Ghana Immigration Service and uncovered a number of lapses in the data collection process leading to the use of the non-citizens’ cards as the only card for the issuance of resident permits. The project faced resistance from a section of NIA staff whose concerns ranged from alleged lack of consultation, job security and lack of trust. We organized staff durbars to enhance staff ownership of the project. We assured NIA staff of job security; showed the reputational benefits; trained key NIA personnel on the technical system and reduced mistrust through informing them on the robust process leading to the partnership. Consultation has been also expanded to include a wider section of NIA staff for input.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Financial Impact The project has generated about $1.5 million revenue for NIA in barely 2 years following implementation. An application to access this revenue and use for organizational activities has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance. Budgetary items to improve NIA’s capacity have been developed based on the project revenue that will fill the gap caused by lack of adequate and regular government funding. In the case of IMS, lack of consistent institutional compliance has not raised expected revenues. This has led the restructuring of loan facility and delay in the draw-down of outstanding registration equipment to avoid inefficiencies of over-capacity. This is also related to the general slowness of public institutions to catch up with new initiatives and compliance is expected to improve over time. Customer Impact The project has registered almost 60,000 foreigners from 184 different nationalities. Customers are using the card to access services that require identification and verification. It has generated time-savings in accessing services, greater trust in transactional arrangements and has saved many non-citizens the inconvenience and associated risk of carrying their passports. The issuance of cards to foreigners has however led to some agitations by Ghanaians who also want their cards. Discussions have commenced on how to expand the scope of the project to cover Ghanaians. This has unfortunately created certain negative reactions from some vested interests leading to a further assessment of the intent to expand. The project has been non-discriminatory (despite appeals for price discrimination) and non-victimizing (despite fears of especially ECOWAS citizens) and has not set any group of non-citizens against the other. It has treated all equally (even the undocumented) and has helped many foreigners settle into the country and supported them in their endeavours such as job applications and application for utility services. It has raised key policy questions on immigration which will need addressing. Organisational Impact The project has invigorated NIA. It has registered more fee-paying foreigners in under 2 years than what NIA has achieved with free cards over 6 years. In addition, NIA has a functional technical system; delivering to international standards and meeting stakeholder needs. This has improved the reputation of the organization as foreigners have cards in hand. Capacity building has already started and key workers have been trained on the new system. NIA has re-engaged with many of its stakeholders and won back some goodwill during the consultation period of the project by providing the platform to brief them on the key challenges they face. In addition, the proof of NIA issued cards has led to a policy statement by the Office of the President that reiterates the pre-eminence of NIA in the identification ecosystem and to stop the proliferation of biometric systems in the country. However, as with most PPPs, the involvement of the private sector has unnerved some staff members who feel threatened by change and are distrusting of the intentions of the private party. For Cal Bank, the project has enhanced its brand amongst the non-citizen population in the country; allowing them an opportunity to cross-sell other banking products. In addition, it is making additional revenue based on commission earned from sale of cards. For GIS, the project has delivered a digital and searchable database that has improved its efficiency, operations and policy development. For other organizations, availability of a verifiable identity card has provided additional assurance to their transactions. Impact Measurement This was done primarily from the customer exit survey following registrations. Our call center also measures the type and impact of calls. These indicators are collated and categorized into broad headings that measure the impact on both users and non-users. Among users, the general view has been the efficiency and smoothness of the services provided, while for non-users, their major concern was the lack of cards despite their preparedness to pay. Some have also called for price discrimination based on their social circumstances. Other concerns such as the non-acceptance of cards due to institutional rivalry, poor understanding have since been dealt with by our compliance team. We plan to do a more targeted impact assessment after the second anniversary of the project against initial the business case expectations.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The key risks that unfortunately came to pass were the lack of funds for operations and maintenance and asset obsolesce. Under the original design, the cards were to be issued free to all residents (citizens and non-citizen) to be funded by the state without any sustainable revenue model. The lack of sustainable funds undermined the sustainability of the project. This current project is financially sustainable revenue model that is yearly and covers the overall costs associated with the issuance of the cards. This is through a parliament approved fee paying regime that guarantees a revenue inflow over the lifetime of the project. This revenue model is underpinned by 2 Legislative Instruments (LI 2111 & LI 2191) that specify instances of use of card and chargeable fees. This offers a statutory backing for the project that is enforceable through the courts. LI 2111 in particular states the institutions to be affected and provides the basis for a regulatory framework for the enforcement of the use of the card. Technically, the instant issuance of biometric cards in 10 minutes has been a clear manifestation of a public service that delivers. A 5-year asset renewal plan ensures that the system is upgraded to meet evolving needs and standards and to counter obsolesce. The project also has periodic reviews that are synchronized with the asset replacement cycle every 5 years to assess the impact of changing economic conditions on project viability. There is also a provision for either party to call for a contract review to whenever there is a material adverse effect on either party. Possession of the cards also enhances social inclusion within the Ghanaian community both at home and abroad of the holder’s affinity with Ghana that brings greater acceptance and assistance to cardholders. Moreover, due to the non-punitive approach, previously undocumented foreigners are using this project as a platform to regularize their stay in the country; empowering them in the process. Given the performance of the technical system, negotiations are far advanced to expand the project to cover an additional 15 million Ghanaians for free as part of their rights as citizens. Extensive engagements with key stakeholders are ongoing to develop and agree a revenue model for the project. All stakeholders will be connected to NIA’s primary database via a unique number and a web service developed to enable them use the primary data for their customized services. It is anticipated that the expansion will bring an end to the proliferation of biometric systems; save money and time spent on registering for different biometric schemes in the process.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
That Ghana is a far more popular destination country than previously thought. With citizens of over 180 nationalities residing within its borders, the country should improve the delivery of services and quality of infrastructure to maintain its status as a welcoming country and enhance its reputation as a country that works. That even though foreigners have very different media habits, they still got to know about the project through Ghanaians. This lesson resonates with research findings that showed that the often overlooked “word of mouth” is crucial platform for communication even for national projects. That the climate of corruption and mistrust have conspired to generate a very strong level opposition to PPPs in Ghana. That despite the potential benefits of PPP projects to the country, the risk of resistance could jeopardize the implementation of many laudable projects. It is recommended that the PPP laws are passed in quick time and a Regulator appointed to expeditiously deal with commercial and contractual issues in order to win trust amongst the citizenry. Another key lesson linked to the issue of trust was the development of a process-driven approval process where assessments were handled in a rational manner. That getting taking key stakeholders (including politicians from either side of the aisle) on a learning trip and getting them to sign an undertaking to cooperate is a powerful tool to secure critical support for the project. That the level of institutional rivalry to preserve dominance lead to non-efficient performance. Clear laws and mandates setting up these institutions should be developed and to promote a cooperative environment. That the passage of laws does not automatically lead to enforcement or compliance. Much more needs to be done at the stakeholder level to engage and educate on the merits of the project and its benefits to the stakeholder. That the success of enforcing any project is dependent on the competence and willingness of the street bureaucrats to enforce. That PPPs are a threat to the beneficiaries of the traditional forms of procurement who are afraid of change among other things. That developing a multi-sectoral application to save cost from duplication for the country might not be well received.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Identity Management Systems
Institution Type:   Other  
Contact Person:   Frank Oye
Title:   Managing Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   +233200721293
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Kanda
Postal Code:   KN785
City:   Accra

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