Foreign nationals who are in the country for a cumulative period of ninety days and beyond, as well as those permanently resident in the country, have been urged to enrol with the National Identification Authority (NIA) who are currently registering foreigners in a separate process.

Designated the Foreigners Identification Management System (FIMS), the process falls in line with the Authority?s mandate to register all Ghanaians and foreigners permanently resident in Ghana and issue them with National Identity Cards as prescribed under the National Identity Register Act, 2008 (Act 750).

This is with the expectation that — in the event of the exercise?s completion — the National Identity Card will be used for all transactions that require identification in the country.

The Authority, in allaying fears by some foreigners who believe FIMS might be used for discrimination or repatriation, or even the abuse of the privacy of the individual, the NIA has indicated that a number of countries — including Nigeria, south Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Bostwana among others like the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei — have laws requiring national identification.

However, the Authority has indicated that non-compliance may result in deportation as specified under the Ghana Immigration Service regulations; and that foreigners who stay in the country for a cumulative period of over 90 days in one year without registering under FIMS will pay a penalty for the number of days they stayed in the country illegally.

In a stakeholder consultation to introduce FIMS, the NIA stated that producing a national register with statistical information to enable Government plan for all persons within its jurisdiction, as well as assist it combat crimes such as money laundering, terrorism and proliferation of arms.

It will also aid foreign nationals with the acquisition of work permits for those who require identification as well as help Government protect the rights of foreign nationals as required by the United Nations, of which Ghana is a member.

The exercise is also deemed to reduce social tensions, since it will reduce suspicion of illegality as well as motives of foreigners amongst Ghanaian citizens.

The Authority has also observed that countries within the Euro zone such as Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain are examples of countries with compulsory national ID cards.

The Executive Secretary of the Authority, Dr. William Ahadzie, explained that the ID cards will be linked to national registration systems, which in turn form the basis of Government administration and part of a much larger system.

?With the use of microprocessor technology, these cards will become an interface for receipt of Government services. Thus the cards will become a fusion of a service technology, and a means of identification.?

This fusion of technology and identification, he said, will provide time-saving benefits to all foreigners who seek access to public and social services.

By Konrad Kodjo Djaisi
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