New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: UPDF Takes Over National ID Project

The Ministry of Defence has taken over the stalled multibillion shillings national identity card (ID) project, New Vision has established.

The ministry will be in charge of capturing data and processing IDs. Much of this work will be done by the UPDF, a source close to the project said.

On March 19, 2010, the Government contracted Muhlbauer Technology, a German firm, at 64.2m Euros (about sh230.9b) to supply technology and other related services for the National Security Information System, which was being handled under the internal affairs ministry.

But by March 2012, the project had stalled over reported lack of funds. The firm had released only 400 IDs out of the over 34 million Ugandans.

Army intervenes

Sources revealed that army officials last year set up a desk at the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation in Entebbe, which will be the co-ordination centre for the data capture exercise.

Army spokesperson Col. Felix Kulayigye on Tuesday confirmed the project.

"We shall capture data of every individual countrywide and make for them IDs. We introduced the Integrated Resource Management System under which we shall capture data," he said in a telephone interview.

Asked when the processing of IDs is expected to start, Kulayigye said they were waiting for a legal instrument that will allow the internal affairs ministry to hand over the work to the defence ministry.

Kulayigye, who said the cost of the project would remain the same (sh200b), noted that the German firm (Muhlbauer Technology), which was contracted to do the work, had its contract still running.

But the army spokesperson could not readily say whether the company would be kicked out or not. "Instead of the company dealing with the internal affairs ministry, they will now deal with the defence ministry," he said.

Parliamentary probe

A May 10, 2012, parliamentary committee on defence and internal affairs report on the inquiry into the procurement of equipment for the project indicated that hefty sums of money had been lost after the project was mismanaged.

The report noted that in April 2009, President Yoweri Museveni directed the Minister of Internal Affairs (then Kirunda Kivejinja) to co-ordinate the project.

President Museveni had earlier in a letter dated April 2, 2009, to the internal affairs ministry advised that single sourcing could be used given the security consideration, but with consultation and clearance by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA).

However, the report added that the ministry carried out direct procurement without consulting the PPDA.

The committee recommended that Kivejinja, should take full responsibility - political, financial and administrative, in the anomalies and losses occasioned and observed in the conduct of the procurement of the information system's equipment.

Status of the equipment

According to parliamentary findings, the equipment is kept at the printing and publishing premises in Entebbe, and it awaits commissioning.

However, the Government is yet to build or set up a national data and personalisation centre, attain mass enrolment of nationals, refurbish and construct the data centre as well as pay a final sum of about sh40b to Muhlbauer as per the agreement.

Losses incurred

According to the Auditor General, some of the equipment imported for the project has been stolen or damaged. Among the missing equipment are 30 laptops, 726 cameras, 20 generators, 10 signature pads, two laptop switches and one fingerprint scan.

The damaged equipment includes 645 backgrounds, three cable drums and three generators. The Auditor General argued that the loss could have been avoided if the equipment had been insured.

According to the information and communication technology ministry, the project aims at helping the Government to have easy identification of Ugandans on the Government pay roll, social security, the Police and army and within the East African community.

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