All is set for the rollout of measures to end age falsification, a fundamental aspect of the National Identification Authority’s (NIA) drive to compile a single credible national identification database for Ghana.
March 31 take-off date
According to Vice-President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, all things being equal, the issuance of Ghana Card personal identification number (PIN) to newborn babies is expected to commence on March 31, 2023.
Ghana Card to be issued to them at age 6
But they can only be issued Ghana Cards at six years because that is the time their fingerprints are fully developed to enable biometric capture.
Prevalence of age falsification in Ghana
This stage of the NIA’s work is critical as it begins the process of eliminating age falsification experienced in football, civil service recruitment, job retention, unilateral postponement of retirement, high level corporate management jobs, sports competitions, qualification for foreign scholarships for post-graduate degrees, and enlistment into the security forces, where a lower age is a precondition for eligibility, consideration, acceptance, retention and promotion.
PIN to be issued 6 weeks after birth
Information on the system indicates that the issuances of the PIN will take place during immunisation of the baby, which takes place six weeks after birth.
Immunisation schedule in Ghana
The current Expanded Programme on Immunisation schedule recommends Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) at birth.
A dose of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is given at birth followed by subsequent immunisations at six, 10 and 14 weeks.
Role of baby naming ceremonies
The six-week period before issuing Ghana Card PIN to babies is to give parents ample time to perform naming ceremonies, a vital Ghanaian culture.
Therefore, by the time the baby is due for immunisation in six weeks, the name of the baby is expected to be ready to facilitate the issuance of Ghana Card PIN.
Data captured by GHS
The day a baby is born, Ghana Health Service (GHS) system captures the date, time and place of birth, gender, weight at birth, and the name of parents into its database and same information is recorded on the weighing card of the baby.
Mother should go to immunisation with Ghana Card
Therefore, the mother of a new baby is expected to visit a health facility for immunisation six weeks after giving birth with her Ghana Card and the name of the baby.
A GHS official at the health facility will take the mother’s Ghana Card number and record the PIN.
Live photo of mother and baby
The GHS health official will also take a live photo of the mother and a separate live photo of the baby.
Information to be transmitted to NIA
The live photos of the mother and her baby, date of birth, time of birth, place of birth, gender, weight at birth of the baby and the name of the parents will then be transmitted electronically to the NIA through an application programming interface (API).
Gadgets supplied to all health facilities
All health facilities have been provided with electronic gadgets with the API installed and designated officials trained on how to undertake the process.
Live biometric verification of mother
The NIA will then undertake biometric verification of the mother using the live photo taken at the health facility and her Ghana Card PIN.
Retrieving mother’s digital identity from NIA’s database
The NIA will also verify the photos to establish that they are live photos and then use the Ghana Card PIN of the mother to retrieve her digital identity from its database.
Verifying biographic information
The NIA system will also verify the biographic information of the mother, comprising full name, date of birth, gender, citizenship, digital address, names of mother and father, hometown, phone number, occupation, and languages spoken.
Comparison of live photo with facial biometric data in NIA database
The NIA will then compare the live photo taken at the health facility with the facial biometric data in its system.
If the data matches and the mother is a Ghanaian, then the NIA will move to the next step.
Data mismatch will abrogate process
However, if the data of the mother transmitted from the health facility does not match the data in the NIA system, the process is abrogated.
Process will be suspended if mother is a foreigner
Also, if the data matches but the mother is not a Ghanaian, the NIA will abrogate the process because babies of foreigners are not to be issued PIN.
NIA to send response to health facility
When the process is abrogated because the data of the mother transmitted from the health facility does not match the data in the NIA’s database or the mother is not a Ghanaian, the NIA will send a response to the health facility through the API.
But, if the data matches and the mother is a Ghanaian, the NIA will go ahead and process the information on the baby.
Father to go through process if mother is a foreigner
If the mother is not a Ghanaian but the father is, then the father needs to go through the live verification process, instead of the mother, for the issuance of a national ID number to be given to the child.
Verification of baby’s data
After successfully verifying the mother, the NIA will also verify the data of the baby transmitted from the health facility to establish whether it already exists in its database or not.
Process to be abrogated if baby’s data already exists in NIA’s database
If the verification shows that the data of the baby already exists in the NIA’s database, the process is abrogated and a response sent to the health facility.
Baby’s data to be linked to mother’s data in NIA’s database
However, if the outcome of the search shows that the data of the baby is not already in the system, then the NIA will link the data of the baby to the mother’s data in the NIA’s system.
NIA to generate PIN for baby
The NIA system will then generate a PIN for the baby, which will be linked to the mother’s Ghana Card PIN and then shared with GHS.
Live verification done digitally and in real time
The live verification process of the mother and child takes place digitally and in real time.
Live verification data distributed to all relevant authorities digitally
The data is distributed to all relevant authorities digitally and within seconds, with each data set bearing the same verification code and tailored to what data they are entitled to receive by law.
Baby’s PIN added to GHS information system
The GHS then adds the baby’s PIN to the information it has also captured about the mother into its system.
Child to be taken to NIA centre at age 6
When the child turns six, the mother has to take the baby to the nearest NIA registration centre.
Retrieving baby’s data and updating it with fingerprints, iris, and photo
At this point, the baby’s data captured during immunisation at six weeks will be retrieved from the NIA database and updated with biometrics of fingerprints, iris, and photo.
Ghana Card printed for child with same PIN
The NIA will then print a Ghana Card for the child at age six with the same PIN issued six weeks after birth.
What if the mother dies before six weeks?
In the unfortunate event of the mother dying as a result of giving birth to the child or any other causes before the second immunisation, any other family member who has a Ghana Card, including the father, can go through the same process for the NIA to issue a PIN to the baby.
Role of Births and Deaths Registry
The Births and Deaths Registry will then use the Ghana Card PIN issued to the baby and the relevant information captured in the NIA’s system to print birth certificate for the child.
1.2m children under age 5 not in any official document
An estimated 1.2 million Ghanaian children under the age of five are not registered in any official document.
1 in 4 children never registered in Ghana
The birth of about every 1 in 4 (28.89%) children in Ghana has never been registered.
Birth registration and certification was lowest among children born to young mothers (15 – 19 years), children whose mothers have no formal education, mothers who reside in rural areas, and mothers in the poorest wealth quintile.
The laws of Ghana as mandated by the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1965 (Act 301) requires that all births (and deaths) that occur in Ghana be registered.
Registering a birth soon after it’s occurrence is important to ensure access to services, reduce misreporting, and produce accurate and timely vital statistics.
For an individual to have proof of legal identity and access to a range of rights and services, a birth certificate or national identity card should be issued when a birth is registered.
Society first acknowledges a child’s existence and identity through birth registration.
A birth certificate or national identity card is proof of legal identity and is the basis upon which children can establish a nationality, avoid the risk of statelessness, and seek protection from violence and exploitation.
Functioning civil registration systems are the main vehicles through which a legal identity for all can be achieved.
Civil registration systems that are operating effectively compile vital statistics, which are used to compare the estimated total number of births in a country with the absolute number of registered births during a given period.
It is, therefore, necessary that all births are registered, and even more critical that the registration of a birth is followed by the issuance of a birth certificate.
Additionally, home births and births that were not assisted by a medical professional were observed to have the lowest proportion of registered and certified births. Furthermore, the birth of children who are less than a year old was significantly more likely not to be registered or issued with a birth certificate.
Registering the birth of every child, most preferably at birth, is not only a basic and fundamental human right, but also has legal implications.
The records on the newborn will automatically be sent to the Births and Deaths Registry, and the National Identification Authority for the issuance of a national ID number without delay.
Universal birth registration is a component of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16.9, but will need to accelerate significantly to meet the 2030 goal.
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