Margins affirms Ghana Card has e-passport

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Ghana Card E Passport
Ghana Card E Passport

Manufacturers of Ghana’s National Identity Card (Ghana Card), Margins ID Group have confirmed that indeed the card has three secure identity profiles on it, and one of them in the electronic passport (e-passport) which meets the highest international standards.

At a stakeholder forum for a select group of editors in the country, Chief Executive of Margins, Moses Baiden stated that the e-passport on the Ghana Card contains all the information printed on the biodata page of the paper passport, including the holder’s name, date of birth and other biographic information.

He added that the electronic chip also contains a collection of read-only files that include sophisticated cryptographic mechanisms that protect the security of the document and a the privacy of the passport holder.

“The biographic and biometric data contained in the electronic chip on the Ghana Card can therefore be compared to both the traveller and the travel document (paper passport) being presented respectively,” he said, adding that “There are multiple layers of security in the e-passport that prevent duplication.”

The claim that the Ghana Card contains an e-passport that can be used for both domestic and international travels was first made by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, but it was met with some public debate as to whether other countries will really accept the Ghana Card as a valid travel document.

There were also questions about whether the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will approve of the Ghana Card as a valid international travel document that meets all of its requirements. Indeed, some even questioned whether foreign missions in Ghana will accept to issue electronic visas to Ghanaians who wish to travel with the e-passport on their Ghana Cards.

In the midst of the debate, ICAO came out and stated that the Ghana Card meets its e-passport standards but it was for the Ghana government to take steps to ensure that the Ghana Card could actually be used as an e-passport for international travels.

E-Passport features

Moving away from that debate, Moses Baiden stated that indeed “The e-passport on the Ghana Card meets the highest ICAO international standards at par with the most advanced countries.”

He explained further that the Ghana Card has three profiles on the chip that can be used to interface with any international application.

The three are ICAO Document 9303 Passport Profile – which means it is a machine readable travel document; an electronic ID (e-ID) Profile and a Match On Card (MOC) Profile, which facilitates secure connection to digital platforms and enables authenticated users to complete e-government or e-commerce transactions.

The Margins CEO explained that even mobile devices do have e-ID’s that offer convenience, security and efficiency, but that may not be sufficient in all contexts, and that is where the Ghana Card comes in handy, because it takes into account some specific needs such as technological capabilities, legal requirements and trust factors associated with specific situations.

Digitalization of Trust

Speaking of trust, he noted that the Ghana Card represents the digitalization of trust in Ghana, explaining that with the rolling out of Ghana Card, citizens now own their own data, while agencies and organizations only have access to the information they are authorized to access by law for the execution of their duties.

“Registration from birth means no more falsification of age, clean voters register and accurate population census among other things,” he said. “No more football age, ghost names on government payroll and fake names on voters’ register.”

Currently, the NIA is issuing new cards to public sectors workers on government payroll, who are first time applicants. The purpose is to ensure that all legitimate workers are captured on the national biometric payroll, so that all ghost names will be removed.

Moses Baiden said apart from boosting trust, inclusiveness, openness and reliability, the Ghana Card also has the potential to transform Ghana into a digitally advanced nation and the most digitally advanced economy in the world.

Mandatory use

Ghana Card has become the de facto ID for almost every transaction in Ghana now, making it the master stroke in Ghana’s digital transformation journey.

By law (LI 2111, Regulation 7), every Ghanaian is required to present Ghana Card in order to get a passport, driver’s license, and insurance policy. It is also required for banking transactions, land registration, purchase or transfer, as well as for NHIS, Pension, SSNIT and consumer credit transactions.

Again, Ghana Card is required for payment of taxes, SIM card registration, application for public and government services, transactions requiring gazette publication and voters registration.

Single Source of Truth

Moses Baiden said, from the onset, the Ghana Card was also intended to be a single source of truth based on one legal identity, biometrics and biodata, adding “This is the foundation for securely verifying people remotely and physically in real time.”

At this point he touched on some recent cases of some individuals having two Ghana Cards in one name and some having fake cards. He stated emphatically that “there is no way one person can have two genuine Ghana Cards and there is no way anyone can beat the verification system with a fake Ghana Card unless that person uses the card at places where verification is not required.”

He believes Margins, in collaboration with the National Identification Authority (NIA) have been able to achieve exactly what they set out to do with the Ghana Card, and he is confident that once every Ghanaian is properly captured unto the national ID system, Ghanaians will see the real benefits of the Ghana Card.

As of August 18, 2023, a little over 17.46 million Ghanaians had registered for Ghana Card and about 17.33 million cards had been printed, majority of which have already been given out to the respective holders.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Having an ePassport profile on the card, and the card being accepted by another country for international travel, are two very different things. Ghana cannot unilaterally decide the latter. The receiving state (where you are travelling to) must explicity permit it.

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