3 February 2013

Tanzania: Time to Finally Get National Identity Cards

LAST Friday, President Jakaya Kikwete signed final documents and had his passport photo taken by National Identification Authority (NIDA) senior officials led by Director General, Dickson Maimu at State House finalizing the process for acquisition of the long awaited National ID.

Mr Mwaimu said Mr Kikwete will receive the first ID on Wednesday next week alongside other senior government officials including MPs, marking culmination of the exercise of preparing the cards.

This is a big relief to many Tanzanians who have been looking forward for many years to get hold of these precious pieces of smart cards which are badly needed to safeguard law and order. Several stakeholders had said earlier that with national IDs, crime will be contained to a greater degree, government revenue will increase significantly, bank interest rates will fall and several other things involving individuals will be formalized.

Although it's only a tiny fraction of people that will be given the IDs when the exercise finally kicks off next week, the significance of the exercise cannot be underestimated. It will mark a new beginning for many Tanzanians who have never possessed a national ID since independence from Britain in December 1961.

National IDs will also assist the government to identify its nationals, and the legal and illegal aliens. The latter are not only a threat to national security, but also a liability in terms of their social status. It is important therefore that NIDA speeds up the process of taking their noble duty of issuing national IDs to all bonafide Tanzanians.

We hope that with proper identification of people, crime wave will go down, Treasury coffers will have more cash, bank lending rates will go down, businesses will strive and the country's economy will grow at a much bigger pace than before.

Issuing national IDs to over 45 million Tanzanians will also be able to travel easily around the East African region where some critics have said our lack of identity cards has delayed the integration process especially on free movement of people. It is our hope therefore that people from all walks of life will give NIDA officials and agents full support to ensure that this noble exercise goes on smoothly and is completed in the shortest possible time.

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