Government Waives Fees for Standard National ID Renewal

Citizens will be exempted from paying a fee of Shs50,000 to renew their National Identity Cards (IDs) except for those opting for express service, Members of Parliament (MPs) have been assured.

The reassurance was provided by the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi, in a statement to the House regarding the preparations for the mass renewal of national identity cards.

During the parliamentary session on Tuesday, 13 February 2024, MPs expressed dissatisfaction with the prolonged process of ID renewal and issuance of new IDs, urging the government to promptly release funds to facilitate the process.

MPs were further troubled to learn that despite Shs300 billion allocated for the purpose, no funds have been disbursed to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, resulting in the suspension of activities such as the recruitment of personnel to manage the exercise and delayed procurement.

“This is the process through which we compile the register for elections, which should be ready by January 2025. Renewing over 15.2 million IDs and enrolling 17 million new IDs by June this year is urgent to avoid a national crisis,” remarked Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa.

Tayebwa expressed concern that the ministry had halted the recruitment of personnel for the exercise and urged the ministry to initiate recruitment while awaiting funding to meet the deadline.

“You cannot wait for the money to be deposited into your account; you can initiate the recruitment process, and when the funds arrive, you can issue recruitment letters,” Tayebwa emphasized.

In May 2022, the Deputy Speaker had cautioned the minister against turning the national ID card exercise into a revenue-generating venture due to its essential requirement for accessing social and economic services.

Kwania County MP, Hon. Tonny Ayoo, raised concerns about the lengthy process citizens undergo during ID renewal, suggesting that the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) should emulate the systems used for renewing driving licenses.

“NIRA has been using outdated computers, systems, and applications, which is why they offer express IDs. Why can’t they adopt the process used for issuing and renewing driving licenses?” Ayoo questioned.

Ayoo urged Parliament to exert pressure on the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development to promptly release the allocated Shs192 billion for the exercise in this quarter.

Hon. David Mugole (NRM, Kabweri County) cautioned against delayed recruitment witnessed during previous enrolments, which he attributed to errors, particularly in age, resulting in many elderly individuals missing out on their special grants.

“You could find that the date of birth on the registration form differs from the one on the national ID. For instance, they recorded the wrong date on my father’s ID, causing him to miss out on the Social Assistance Grant Empowerment, despite being 90 years old,” Mugole explained.

He inquired whether the upcoming mass renewal would offer an opportunity to rectify errors.

Legislators urged NIRA to consider categories of people denied national IDs due to disabilities and race.

The representative for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Hon. Joyce Acan, noted that PWDs without fingers were denied IDs because fingerprints were required during biometric data capture.

Kabula County MP, Hon. Enos Asiimwe, highlighted concerns about Ugandan nationals of Rwandan origin facing difficulties obtaining national IDs and called on the government to address such cases.

A similar issue was raised by Kiryandongo District Woman MP, Hon. Helen Kahunde, regarding an indigenous community known as the Maragoli in Kiryandongo District, who are not yet recognized in the constitution.

“They were excluded from the last enrollment. The government has promised to establish a constitutional review commission to include them as citizens in the constitution. They fear they will be left out again,” Kahunde stated.

Minister Muhoozi reiterated that despite the delays, the ministry had initiated the procurement process for ICT equipment, and training of ministry staff in the new National Security Information System was underway in India.

“Following the approval of funding, procurements related to the new National Security Information System have also commenced, with requests for approval from the National Information Technology Authority – Uganda obtained,” Muhoozi elaborated in his statement.

Muhoozi outlined the plan for hard-to-reach districts, stating that standby generators and solar panels would be provided to mitigate power outages.

“Approximately 2,750 kits with solar panels will be available, in addition to each district having a 5KV generator for the exercise. Each kit will include two connectivity devices, and connectivity mapping is underway for each parish nationwide,” he added.