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Friday, October 7, 2022

Bright Simons Ghana Card artwork post is ‘a mix of half truth’ – NIA

The National Identification Authority has asked the general public to disregard a Facebook post by Honorary Vice President of policy think tank, Imani Africa, Bright Simons on the artwork of the Ghana Card.

“How many are even aware that until recently the Ghana Card brand design itself was not even owned by Ghana? That it was owned by a French & the country had to pay to get it? When Civil Society scrutinizes your govt, be grateful. There’s a war for the soul of your country.” Bright Simons wrote.

But NIA in a press statement dated August 17, 2022 and signed by the Ag. Head, Corporate Affairs, Dr. Abudu Abdul-Ganiyu stated that “the post should be regarded as a mix of half-truth, insinuation, self-praise and alarmism.”

According to the release, “the controversy over the Ghana Card artwork, generated by the said post, is wholly needless and distractive.”

Clarifying the issue, the NIA highlighted the following;

1. The artwork for the Ghana Card was designed by SAGEM MORPHO (now IDEMIA) of France which won the contract for the production of the first generation of Ghana Cards in 2008. The said artwork is the same one used for the Ghana Cards issued under the Foreigner Identification Management System (FIMS) to qualified foreigners lawfully resident in Ghana and the current generation of Ghana Cards;

2. Under the contract, SAGEM designed, built and supplied to the Government of Ghana a technical platform for the Ghana Card to be operated by NIA. A term of the contract was that the artwork produced by SAGEM was exclusively for the use of the Republic of Ghana. SAGEM always held the artwork for and on behalf of the Government of Ghana, and it could not sell or otherwise pass it on to any person or entity. The artwork had to be designed by a facility with the certification to produce the high-level security artwork required, (the same certification level needed for the design and production of currency). By 2017, as a result of changes in corporate ownership, IDEMIA became the successor of SAGEM, and owned the rights to the Ghana card artwork.

3. In 2017, the Government of Ghana, through the NIA, took the decision to enhance the Ghana Card to include the new security features agreed to by ECOWAS Heads of State and Government during the chairmanship of H.E. John Dramani Mahama on 15th December 2014. The said decision by the ECOWAS leaders called for the establishment and harmonization of a biometric ECOWAS identity cards with common features to be used by ECOWAS member states to replace existing travel certificates.

4. Although the Government of Ghana always had the privilege to pay for the artwork, it did not do so until 2017. This was to enable NIA and its technical partner, Identity Management Systems II Limited (IMS), a subsidiary of the Margins Group of Companies, to facilitate the migration of the artwork because there had to be a translation of the evolution of the card so that certain elements of the original design were maintained. This was especially crucial as approximately 900,000 Ghanaians were already in possession of the Ghana Card issued since 2008. Maintaining consistency in appearance with the Ghana Cards in circulation since the era of President John Agyekum Kufuor was also compelling for easy card recognition, aesthetic appeal and avoidance of confusion.

5. Accordingly, the NIA bought the artwork from IDEMIA, the successor of SAGEM MORPHO, which could not have used it for any other purpose. This situation is akin to the cedi which is designed for Ghana by a third party but cannot be used by the designer for any other country (even if Ghana has not paid for it).

 6. NIA acquired the artwork because it wanted to have sovereign control over it, multi-nationalize it with the ECOWAS Card, and get IMS II to evolve it in the best interest of Ghana.

7. The current Ghana Card artwork was produced by Intelligent Card Production Systems Limited (ICPS) a wholly owned subsidiary of the Margins ID Group (the only Integraf Certified facility in Africa to Central Bank Level).

8. Under the direction of NIA/IMS II, ICPS redesigned the Ghana Card to reflect the evolution of the card from a 2-D bar code card to a high security, ultra-modern, dual-interface, chip-embedded, multi-functional identity card combined with the mandatory security features of the ECOWAS Electronic Machine Readable Travel Document/card (e-MRTD).

“Based on the foregoing, it is both wrong and ignorant to suggest that the historic retention of the artwork (brand design) by a French has any significance,” the release added.

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