National IDs Mass Renewal Project Hangs In Balance As NIRA Faces Cash Crisis

National IDs Mass Renewal Project Hangs In Balance As NIRA Faces Cash Crisis


By Spy Uganda

Kampala: The National Information Registration Authority (NIRA) has failed to commence mass enrolment of 17.2 million persons due to funding gaps for the activity, the Authority’s Executive Director, Rosemary Kisembo, has said.

The Authority also has pending mass renewal of national identification cards targeting 15.8 million persons, given that cards will expire in August 2024.

Kisembo brought the concerns before the attention of legislators on the Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs, in a meeting held on Wednesday, 25 October 2023.

She added that with the absence of a budget approved in 2022 worth Shs666.85 billon to install the National Security Information System (NSIS), the mass enrolment remains pending.

“The project was expected to start in June 2023 as a pilot and full roll-out in August 2023, with procurements and recruitment contracts for registration assistants. However, this has not been done due to absence of funds or a letter of commitment of funds,” Kisembo said.

In August 2023, the Electoral Commission released the electoral road map that requires NIRA to submit the register of citizens to enable the Commission compile, maintain, revise and update the voters register by September 2024.

The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Wilson Kajwengye, tasked NIRA to explain whether it was prepared to handover a credible data source to the Electoral Commission in preparation for the 2026 general elections.

“You have said you were supposed to have rolled out two months ago but have not yet done so. Are you telling us that you are not ready for mass enrolment ahead of the elections?” Kajwengje asked.

Kisembo responded that NIRA was only delayed but expressed optimism about the progress of the project.

“There are some aspects of the project like capacity building that have started. As soon as funding is provided, key aspects like procurement of hardware and integration will begin,” she noted.

She added that NIRA engaged the Ministry of Finance on funding of the project, who stated that they are considering to seek the authority of cabinet to approve supplementary funding of Shs370 billion under domestic borrowing.

Hon. Naboth Namanya (FDC, Rubabo County) raised concerns on the timely delivery of the requirements by the Electoral Commission, from NIRA.

“When Government provides funds perhaps by next year, won’t it be too late for you to do anything on the project due to time, since you need recruitments and procurements?” Namanya asked.

Hon. Alex Niyonsaba (NRM, Bufumbira County South) asked NIRA to stipulate a deadline period upon which, with continued absence of funds, they would raise project delivery concerns.

“When shall you raise a red flag? We should know that if we get past a certain month, then it will be difficult. The government should know that if they do not provide the money, then the issue is not blamed on NIRA,” said Niyonsaba.

Kisembo told MPs that the Authority will wait until 31 January 2024 before it raises a red flag for project funding, if it has not received money for activities by then.

“If money has not been made available, it will be near to impossible to acquire certain aspects of the hardware needed for the mass enrolment. In that regard, government will have to get a plan B,” Kisembo added. an accessible web community

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