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State agencies save $30m from Ghana Card merger

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Nearly $30 million is being saved each year by various state institutions that have successfully integrated their systems with the National Identification Authority (NIA) database. The savings are made from the absence of the procurement for new equipment, non-printing of new sector-specific cards, and non-duplication of services as the Ghana Card now serves as the sole identity for health insurance, social security, taxation, and business transactions.

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) that used to print new cards for new members are no longer doing so since linking their systems to the Ghana Card database for the biodata of applicants and members. While SSNIT has linked 1.98 million of its members with the Ghana Card, the integration process by the NHIA has captured six million holders of the National Health Insurance card.

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has since April 1, 2021 replaced the tax identification numbers (TIN) with the Ghana Card personal identification number (PIN) for individual taxpayers, resulting in an expansion of the tax base from four million payers to over 16 million people who qualify to pay tax in the last two years after the linkage. Efforts are also in place for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to plug into the National Identification System.

The Executive Secretary of the NIA, Professor Ken Attafuah, stated that with the Ghana Card, the country was expected to save $1.5 billion over the next 15 years by eliminating duplications. The projected cost savings could be secured through the operations of 12 state agencies, including the DVLA, Bank of Ghana (BoG), Ghana Police Service, SSNIT, NHIS, GRA, and the Electoral Commission (EC).

Prof. Attafuah added that the frequent use of the Ghana Card would enhance digitalisation, service delivery, and boost social and economic inclusion. With those gains, Ghana has now joined the league of countries with solid foundation digital public infrastructure (DPI) that allowed data to be shared between otherwise unconnected institutions in ways that could benefit the citizenry.

Security features of the Ghana Card include a dual interface, capturing all 10 fingerprints, and a chip embedded in the card with a 148-storage capacity to help store information, including electronic passports. The acting Deputy Director, Business Systems, NHIA, Joe Annor-Darkwah, stated that the NHIA had made significant progress with the database integration in an attempt to make it possible for all residents in the country to use one card to access healthcare.

Between June 2021 and June 2022, SSNIT deployed its systems to allow members to merge their SSNIT and NIA numbers after issuing a directive that the Ghana Card was the only identification that will be recognized by the trust in July 2022. Digital infrastructure analyst, Edward David, entreated the government to adequately fund the NIA to fast-track the acquisition of the Ghana Card to facilitate the country’s digitalization agenda.