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NewsPlagiarism scandal rocks NIA over Ghana Card Public-Private Partnership

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Plagiarism scandal rocks NIA over Ghana Card Public-Private Partnership

Ghana’s National Identification Authority (NIA) has come under fire for allegedly plagiarizing webpages from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agency websites.

This discovery has sparked debates about the NIA’s competence and its ability to defend Ghana’s interests in the Ghana Card Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with Margins Group.

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The issue was brought to light by an X user, Sharudeen Yahya, who tagged the Vice President of IMANI Africa, Bright Simons.

Mr Simons raised concerns about the NIA’s lack of originality and its reliance on copied content. He argued that the real problem lies not in the act of plagiarism itself but in the NIA’s apparent incompetence and disregard for Ghana’s interests.

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Earlier, Mr Simons alleged that Ghana’s National Identification System, also known as the “Ghana Card” is owned by a company called Margins Group and not the government of Ghana.

He is of the view that the National Identification Authority (NIA) is no longer useful, describing it as a “zombie” as “it lacks the capacity to develop specifications and to exercise serious oversight.”

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He made this claim in an article in which he provided an extensive analysis of his research.

“Ghana Card’s main technology asset base belongs to Margins Group, not the government of Ghana,” he wrote.

According to him, this makes it impossible for the government to save money by using smart procurement to obtain the printed cards, biometric devices, and system integrations.

“It must get everything from Margins alone. Ghana Card, as a system, cannot be operated without Margins, so the idea that the government “owns” the data is meaningless.”

Mr Simons noted that due to Margins Group’s ownership of the Ghana Card, each unit costs Ghana nearly 20 times what a similar smartcard costs Rwanda.

“The Ghana Card Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement between NIA was supposed to be cost-neutral to the government. It was to pay a startup contribution of $124 million and then recoup over time as revenues come in. However, the “revenues” are a sham since they come from the same government,” he added.

He asserts that by 2033, the Ghana card system would have generated revenue of $1.44 billion. However, this money, he said will be paid to Margins Group.

“Government of Ghana is therefore going to end up paying up all the $1.44 billion revenues the system is designed to generate by 2033, and Margins will get virtually all of the money.”

What NIA has said about the Ghana card system

  1. The National Identification System (NIS), project contract is being executed under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement between NIA and Identity Management Systems (IMS), a subsidiary of the Margins Group of companies.
  2. The cost of the project is jointly shared by the parties. NIA’s component of the contract sum is $124 million, which caters for operations in both Ghana and abroad to register and issue smart, biometric, chip-embedded ID cards to all Ghanaians aged 15 years and over, and 2-dimentional bar code cards to all Ghanaians under 15 years old. The cost of the project to IMS is $169 million. All subsequent costs will be covered by proceeds from the project over the contract term of 15 years.
  3. Unlike other traditional contracts, IMS will not be given any money by the Government of Ghana.
  4. It will be recalled that the Minority in Parliament issued a press statement on 10 June 2018 in which it admitted to having received documents from NIA which it subsequently approved, showing the total life cost of the project over 15 years as $1.2bn with tax exemption of $176million. It is baffling that the NIA will be accused of bloating the contract sum which it presented to all members of Parliament. th
  5. It must be emphasised that the cost per smart card issued to Ghanaians 15years and above is $5.40, while the cost per 2D bar code card issued to Ghanaians under 15years is $1.50.
  6. It is factually not correct that nationals of India are issued with a biometric ID card. What India issues to its nationals is merely a Personal Identification Number; India does not provide its citizens with any form of identity cards whatsoever.
  7. The closest national ID cards that can be compared to the Ghana Card, in terms of their physical characteristics and technical functionalities, are those of Rwanda and Nigeria. The Rwandan national ID card is a multipurpose card with a 64-kilobyte chip which contains the bearer’s passport, driving licence and health insurance information. The Ghana Card has a 148-kilobyte capacity chip and greater functionalities than the Rwandan card. The Ghana Card also has 14 applets, and far transcends Rwanda’s, and it also has a passport for travel within West Africa. There are also three international ID profiles on the Ghana Card. Information from other data silos, such as the DVLA, NHIA, SSNIT and GIS may be incorporated onto the Ghana card.
  8. The Rwandan biometric ID card will be optionally available at a cost of $18.17 while the Ghana card costs $5.40, and is issued free of charge to Ghanaian citizens in Ghana.
  9. The NIA-IMS contract costs have undergone Value-For-Money (VFM) audits by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and have also been thoroughly assessed by the Public Investments Division of the Ministry of Finance. The contract has also been reviewed by the Attorney-General’s Department and the Legal Unit of the Ministry of Finance. In addition, the contract has been reviewed and given approval by the Public Private Partnership Approval Committee (PPPAC) of the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Economic Management Team of Government. It has also received Cabinet approval.
  10. Copies of the draft Contract were distributed to all 275 members of Parliament, and appropriate waivers for import duty exemptions were also granted by Parliament prior to the contract being executed by the parties in April 2018.
  11. Further information on the NIS project could be found on NIA’s website www.nia.gov.gh

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