Policy must precede technology

Some Ugandans may miss identity cards (New Vision)

In Mengo and Kisenyi suburbs, many non-indigenous Ugandans yesterday expressed disappointment when officials at the distribution centres demanded proof showing that they were registered Ugandans.

This group included Salim Uhuru, the NRM chairman of Kampala district and councillor of Kisenyi, who has since described the development as discrimination.

“When I reached the distribution table, I was told that I was not supposed to get the identity card. My name and photograph were in the register, but were marked ‘non-citizen’. I also noticed that this was the same case with every other person who was light skinned. This smells of discrimination of fellow countrymen on grounds of their skin colour,” he said.

The title of this post is a variation on the theme that technology is no substitute for managerial skill and wise policies (see here for similar thoughts). It looks like Uganda has some work to do in its ID management infrastructure as it seems that in important parts of the bureaucracy, no one is quite sure what a Ugandan is.

See also:
Poor ID Management Infrastructure Prevents Uganda Little League Baseball Team from World Series Participation

It’s obvious that Uganda has more than a fair helping of ID management challenges. The good news is that it has never been easier to overcome technical challenges. The bad news is that technology can’t force a consensus on who should get an ID.

Uganda rolling out updated ID

National identity card issuance starts today (New Vision)

In the program the director citizenship and immigration control Wanzira explained that members of the public, who will come in to receive the IDs, will be verified to ensure that the real owners only receive the IDs.

“This is so, to ensure that the real owners behind the pictures and biometric data are the ones who end up receiving their national IDs,” stated Wanzira.

Uganda President: Biometric voter verification for 2016

Museveni approves thumbprint use in 2016 (Daily Monitor)

“In future, all that [multiple voting] will stop. We are importing machines for thumb printing in 2016. We shall use thumbprints to know who this is and if you try to steal, the machine will throw you out,” Mr Museveni is quoted in a State House statement [ed. Yoweri Museveni is the president of Uganda].

Mr Museveni’s announcement comes weeks after the Electoral Commission (EC) released a roadmap to guide political parties and voters ahead of the 2016 polls which did not feature the use of thumbprint machines.

 

Uganda

The article’s commenters aren’t optimistic.

One year later: Uganda at the Little League World Series

Little League World Series fans shower Uganda with support (PennLive)

Nearly 7,300 people filed Volunteer Stadium Friday evening , many to cheer the first African team in the series.

“This is something,” manager Henry Odong said about the crowd after Uganda lost 9-3 to Panama.

“They were rooting for us even when we were losing,” he said. Because no one is here from Uganda, he said, he did not expect many people to be in the stands.

Uganda’s next game is against Mexico today at 6:00 PM, EDT on ESPN.

…and this sheds a little more light on what happened last year (see post below).

Africa Ready for Debut in Little League World Series (NBC Sports)

Odong’s team isn’t the first team from Africa to qualify for the World Series, though it will be the first one to play in South Williamsport. A separate team from Kampala, Uganda was disqualified last year after the U.S. State Department denied visas because of discrepancies over players’ ages and birth dates

But Uganda coach Richard Stanley, of New York, said the problem had to do with a coach last year falsifying documents. Stanley, a retired chemical engineer who owns a small stake of the Trenton Thunder Double-A minor league baseball team, has donated about $2 million to establish a Little League program and build a baseball academy in Uganda.

Stanley hopes the Lugazi team’s success will help draw more boys and girls into Little League baseball and softball, which he hopes will eventually will be a stepping stone to help children get scholarships and go to college.

But that’s a goal for years down the road. For now, Olaa and his teammates plan to just enjoy the simple pleasure of playing baseball.

One Year Ago: Poor ID Management Infrastructure Prevents Uganda Little League Baseball Team from World Series Participation

Originally posted August 15, 2011

“Many Ugandans, if you ask them, ‘When were you born?’ They say, ‘I don’t know.'” (UPDATE:  Video no longer hosted at YouTube.com by ESPN)

Uganda defeated Saudi Arabia to become the first African team to qualify for the Little League World Series. Exultation turned to disappointment when many of the players were unable to obtain visas to the United States (apparently) because of an inability to provide enough biographical detail during the State Department’s application process.

The video linked below is taken from a documentary currently in production that was featured on ESPN over the weekend. Please watch it before reading the rest of this post. It is not to be missed. (UPDATE: Video no longer hosted at YouTube.com)

“…Little League was not ready for a country like Uganda to participate in the World Series.”
(UPDATE: Video no longer hosted at YouTube.com)

There is a temptation to place blame (upon the State Department, Little League, Uganda, Felipe Almonte, etc.) but the Ugandan coaches and players know the real source of their disappointment though they don’t use the exact same terms we use here: A legitimate ID is a prerequisite to full participation in the modern world.

The sad truth, and the true cause of the plight of Uganda’s Little League baseball team is the fact that (perhaps) billions of the world’s poor lack individual legitimacy because they don’t have an ID that can be vouched for by a trusted second party. These individuals are therefore unable fully to exert their talents through the world’s increasingly interconnected institutions. Because of this, we are all poorer.

Fortunately, and thanks in no small part to biometric technologies, the costs associated with maintaining an effective ID infrastructure are falling fast, enabling even poor societies with low adult literacy rates to provide their children with something they cannot reach their full potential without: a legit ID.

UPDATE – August 16, 2013:
Here’s a poor-quality YouTube video (someone filming their television) of the original ESPN spot referred to above.

Delays threaten Uganda National ID and Voter Registration System

Uganda: Govt to Delay National ID Project Again (All Africa)

“We are all concerned about the IDs. We have written to the ministry of finance pleading. We have put pressure for additional funds but maybe the resource envelope is small. We shall try to work within what was given and try a phased approach,” Onek resignedly said.

In 2010 government signed a 64m Euros (sh205b) agreement with Muehlbauer High Tech International for the supply of equipment and provision of training services. The goal was to set up a biometric register upon which the issuance of ID cards and numbers will be based under the National Security Information System (NSIS) Project. The government has paid Muehlbauer 51m (163b) Euros and owes them 13m Euros (sh42b).

The Electoral Commission has also expressed concerns about the effect of delay of implementation of the Project on the commission’s continuous by-elections and general elections of 2016.

Fingerprint Technology Improves Physical & Financial Security of Ugandan Women

With growing financial independence, Ugandan women face new challenges

Nancy Acieng stands outside the door of Pride Microfinance Limited, a bank in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. A fairly educated woman, she works hard to earn money selling fresh food and fruit from a roadside stall.

She says her hard work used to go to waste because her husband routinely stole her ATM card and withdrew the contents of her account. But thanks to the bank’s new security measure that requires customers’ fingerprints to withdraw money, she now has full control over her finances.

“He still beats me sometimes,” Acieng says. “But he cannot steal my money anyhow, anymore. Using the fingerprint technology changed and improved my security – both physical and financial.”

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