Funding gaps have delayed NIRA’s ID programme which targeting 17million people, this was revealed by the Executive Director of the National Information Registration Authority (NIRA), Rosemary Kisembo.
She said that the Authority has failed to commence mass enrolment of 17.2 million Ugandans due to funding gaps.
Kisembo made this reveal on Wednesday at the parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs Committee, revealed that the Authority also has pending mass renewal of national Identification Cards of 15.8 million people, due to expire in August 2024.
She added that with the absence of a budget approved in 2022 worth 666.8 billion Shillings to install the National Security Information System (NSIS), the mass enrolment remains pending.
“The project was expected to start in June 2023 as a pilot and full roll-out in August 2023, with procurement and recruitment contracts for registration assistants. However, this has not been done due to absence of funds or a letter of commitment of funds,” said Kisembo.
In August 2023, the Electoral Commission (EC) released the electoral road map that requires NIRA to submit the register of citizens to enable the electoral body compile, maintain, revise and update the voters register by September 2024.
The Defence Committee Chairperson, Wilson Kajwengye, tasked NIRA to explain whether it was prepared to handover a credible data source to the Electoral Commission in preparation for the 2026 general elections. “You have said you were supposed to have rolled out two months ago but have not yet done so. Are you telling us that you are not ready for mass enrolment ahead of the elections?” Kajwenje asked.
In response, Kisembo said that NIRA was only delayed but expressed optimism about the progress of the project. “There are some aspects of the project like capacity building that have started. As soon as funding is provided, key aspects like procurement of hardware and integration will begin,” she noted.
Kisembo added that NIRA engaged the Ministry of Finance on funding of the project, who stated that they are considering to seek the authority of cabinet to approve supplementary funding of 370 billion Shillings under domestic borrowing.
Naboth Namanya, the Rubabo County MP raised concerns on the timely delivery of the requirements by the Electoral Commission, from NIRA.
“When Government provides funds perhaps by next year, won’t it be too late for you to do anything on the project due to time, since you need recruitments and procurements?” Namanya asked.
Alex Niyonsaba, the Bufumbira County South MP asked NIRA to stipulate a deadline period upon which, with continued absence of funds, they would raise project delivery concerns.
“When shall you raise a red flag? We should know that if we get past a certain month, then it will be difficult. The government should know that if they do not provide the money, then the issue is not blamed on NIRA,” said Niyonsaba.
Kisembo told MPs that the Authority will wait until 31st, January 2024 before it raises a red flag for project funding, if it has not received money for activities by then. She added that if money has not been made available, it will be near to impossible to acquire certain aspects of the hardware needed for the mass enrolment.