General News of Thursday, 29 November 2018
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has suggested that embassies operating in Ghana may soon start demanding digital addresses from Ghanaian visa applicants.
Although this is not yet a government policy or a directive from embassies, Dr. Bawumia thinks this could become a reality.
Dr. Bawumia made the comments when he was giving the keynote address at the 2nd Stakeholders Conference under the theme ‘Leveraging Economic Diplomacy for Ghana’s Industrialization Agenda’.
While highlighting the significance of the address system, Dr. Bawumia stated that the embassies will be able to better assess the credibility of visa applications going forward, if they make digital addresses a requirement.
“Increasingly, the digital address is being required for you to be able to register for SSNIT or for national ID. If you do not have your digital address you will not be able to register for national ID. We are going to be using it and I am sure even the embassies that are here will increasingly require National Digital Address of anybody in applying for a visa so you can know exactly when to apply for a visa.”
Already, visa applicants in filling forms provide addresses for their homes.
The Vice President’s comments come weeks after Researcher and Vice President of Policy Think Tank, IMANI Africa, Bright Simons, suggested that the National Identification Authority (NIA) requirement of a digital address for the registration and issuance of the Ghana Card appeared not to have been thought-through properly.
Mr. Simons believes that the NIA may not have taken into account the country’s housing dynamics before making the digital address a requirement for the registration and issuance of the Ghana card.
In a Facebook post, he indicated that more than the 120,000 homeless Ghanaians living in Accra alone would be denied the issuance of the card on the basis of the NIA’s digital address requirement.
“There are ~120000 homeless people in Accra alone. And an estimated 5.4 million slum dwellers in Ghana. Most of these people have “no fixed address.” How do you then tie a national ID system to an untested “digital address”? Do these decision makers understand their own country?,” Bright Simons quizzed.
A private legal practitioner, Francis Kojo Kwarteng Arthur, also a few weeks ago also sued the NIA over the digital ID requirement, contending that the requirement is illegal and must be scrapped from the list of requirements.
Lawyer Kwarteng Arthur in a Citi News interview said his research showed that there was no regulation in the GhanaPost and Courier Services Act that recognizes the digital address system.
“The digital address code is being powered by GhanaPost, so I got the Ghana Post and Courier Services Act and regulations, and looked through it, and there was nothing there operationalizing digital address code in Ghana. I am a lawyer and I’m in denial, so what about the ordinary person on the streets. So I decided to test it in court. My readings show me that there is no act operationalizing the digital address code so I want the court to declare that the digital address code is an illegality hence Ghanaian citizens who are willing and present themselves at the NIA to be registered should not be denied the Ghana card on the basis of not having the digital address code,” he said.