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My attention has been drawn to statements made on traditional and social media platforms by Hon. Kennedy Agyepong, MP for Assin Central and Member of the New Patriotic Party, alleging that I have engaged in “corruption”, “thievery” and “fraud” in the award of a contract connected with the National Identification System (NIS) Project. Mr. Agyepong has also complained vehemently about my having allegedly awarded the contract at a cost of $1.2 billion.
Specifically, Hon. Agyepong thundered the following statements, which have since gone viral, on Adom TV on 29th May 2018:
“Ghana Card Contract costing 1.2 billion, stupid. I brought a contract costing $50million from India. Ken Attafuah took land from the CEO of Margins Group to build his house and gave him the contract”.
I categorically deny the allegations and respond as follows:
A. Award of the NIS Project Contract and Cost of Operations
1. I was appointed Ag. Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA) by President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo on 27th January 2017, and I assumed office on 6th February of that year.
2. By letter dated 22nd May 2017, Government directed the National Identification NIA to immediately engage with Identity Management Systems Ltd (IMS), a subsidiary of the Margins Group, to “agree on modalities to ensure the efficient roll-out of NIS project no later than 15th September 2017”.
3. The said directive followed Government’s acceptance of the key recommendations of a Technical Committee established by the Vice President to develop a roadmap for implementing the NIS Project. Based on the recommendations of the Technical Committee, Government had “determined that the existing agreement between NIA and IMS constitutes a viable and effective vehicle for the implementation of a modern, robust and reliable NIS for Ghana consistent with Government’s stated policy commitments”. Government was to build on an existing Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement between NIA and IMS, which it described as constituting a turnkey solution for the NIS Project.
4. It is instructive to note that, the Technical Committee comprised 16 individuals, most of whom were heads of ICT or operations at a number of statutory public service institutions involved the issuance of identity cards or interested in data management. They included the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Electoral Commission (EC), Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the NIA. Other members were from the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlements System (GHIPPS), National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Births and Deaths Registry, and the Office of the Vice-President.
5. In the course of its work, the Committee, which I chaired, granted audience to 15 prospective solutions providers and the World Bank Group (acting in an advisory capacity) to present their potential solutions, and to share with the Committee their knowledge and experiences on relevant international best practices. One such entity was India-based Madras Security Printing, which was presented by Hon. Kennedy Agyapong. As with all entities, the Committee made it clear that it was neither receiving bids nor evaluating proposals or awarding contracts; it was merely an advisory body trying to understand what options for solution might be available to Government for reviving Ghana’s NIS.
6. In reaching a collective decision, each member personally decided and openly pronounced on which of the three possible options for solution he/she favoured. All but two members selected the NIA-IMS solution. One of the two wrote a Dissenting Opinion to the Presidency, and same was thoroughly examined by the Presidency but rejected. Government approved of the majority. I had no capacity to, and did not, influence the decisions of either the Committee or Government on this highly technical matter.
7. At the end of its work, the Committee concluded that there already existed a turnkey solution that supports the instant issuance of multi-purpose smart cards that meet technical requirements. The recommended solution was to expand the Foreigner Identification Management Systems (FIMS) Project developed by IMS for NIA, which was being executed under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement between the two institutions since 2012. The expanded system anticipated the benefits of leveraging on NIA’s existing data and IT assets and the upgrading of NIA’s Data Centre which had become obsolete.
8. Pursuant to the said Government directive, and following critical and comprehensive regulatory and approval processes which spanned over seven months, NIA entered into a PPP contract with IMS on 16thApril 2018 for the implementation of the NIS. The said processes included:
(a) Two separate Value-For-Money (VFM) audits of the entire cost by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA);
(b) Review and approval by the Attorney-General’s Department;
(c) Review by the Legal Unit of the Ministry of Finance;
(d) Critical assessments and approval by the Public Investments Division of the Ministry of Finance (MoF)
(e) Review and approval by Public Private Partnership Approval Committee (PPPAC) of MoF;
(f) Review and approval by the Economic Management Team of Government;
(g) Review and approval by Cabinet; and
(h) Review and approval of appropriate waivers for import duty by Parliament.
Copies of the contract were distributed to all 275 members of Parliament in March 2018, and the contract was not signed until 16th April 2018.
Cost of NIS Project
On this issue, Hon. Kennedy Agyepong makes three fundamental claims. First, he contends that he could provide the Ghana Card and the NIS at a cost of only $50m. Second, Mr. Agyepong claims that he “was bringing a company that was involved in India where the country was divided into two, and two companies did the solution for the Indian Government”, ostensibly referring to the provision of ID cards. Third, he accused me of having been corruptly influenced to award the contract to Margins.
It must be noted that, Mr. Agyepong has presented different cost figures for the said job: in 2017, he claimed that it would cost $150m and in 2018 he puts the figure at $50m. Mr. Agyepong is obviously not in the industry for the manufacture and issuance of biometric ID cards and the management of the NIS and may not be familiar with the cost implications. The ID card Mr. Agyepong contemplates must be radically different from the Ghana Card which forms an important component of the NIS, the totality of which the NIA and IMS partnership is managing for Ghana. Mr. Agyepong does not provide any details on the type of card he intends to deliver to Ghanaians at home and abroad, with his Indian company; he does not indicate how the cards will reach Ghanaians, and how the NIS will be built and maintained within the context of our ……
It is important to note that under India’s biometric ID system known as “Aadhaar”, ten fingerprints and two irises of each individual are captured in order to issue a 12-digit unique identification number. “The unique ID number is then used for a variety of public and private services, often in conjunction with the person’s address, biometric information or password”. No ID card is issued.
The closest national ID cards that can be compared to the Ghana Card, in terms of their physical characteristics and technical functionalities, are those of Rwanda and Nigeria. The Rwandan national ID card is a multipurpose card with a 64-kilobyte chip which contains the bearer’s passport, driving license and health insurance information. The Ghana Card has a 148 kilobyte capacity chip and greater functionalities than the Rwandan card. It has 14 applications that transcend Rwanda’s, and it also has a passport life. There are also three international ID profiles on the Ghana Card. Information from other data silos, such as the DVLA, NHIA, SSNIT and GIS may be incorporated onto the Ghana Card.
The Rwandan biometric ID card will be optionally available at a cost of $18.17, while the Ghana Card costs $5.40, and is issued free of charge to Ghanaian citizens in Ghana, in order to foster social and economic inclusion, among other things goals. The Rwandan card is currently issued to citizens one month after registration, while the Ghanaian gets the card issued instantly or within two days where there is delayed printing of cards for minors under 15 years old.
The NIS project to deliver ID cards to all Ghanaians is over a period of one year. Within this period, the State is committed to spending $124m while the private partner, IMS, is committed to providing $169m. The total project cost for the delivery of the Ghana Card is therefore $293m and not 1.2bn USD. This total is expected to cover the technical and operational cost that will deliver ID Cards to all Ghanaians over the one year period and establish the National Identity Register and the entire NIS.
When the card has been delivered and the NIS has become fully functional, part of the revenues that will accrue to NIA by virtue of identity verification services will be used to fund NIA’s operational cost and pay off the investments that the partners would make over a period of 15 years. This is projected to be $1.2bn over the operational lifecycle.
In short, the cost of the NIS project is not $1.22 billion, but rather $293.6 million, of which Government’s cost is $124 million. This amount is for a much more extensive system than that which was approved under the previous government. The amount of $124 is the full cost for NIA for the first year of the project, and it covers operations in both Ghana and abroad to register and issue cards to 30 million Ghanaians.
The cost profile of the project has not changed since 2012, when the Pilot contract for the registration of foreigners lawfully resident in the country, known as the FIMS Project, was signed under President Mills. The contract terms and pricing are consistent with the FIMS Pilot Project agreement executed between NIA and IMS in 2012, and the Feasibility Study Report for the present expanded project, which received two approvals by the PPPAC in 2014 prior to the 2018 Final Approval.
NIS Cost Breakdown
1. The NIA’s cost of $124 million out of the $293.6 million represents 42% of the first year Project cost and will be spent on the following:
• The Central Site (AFIS, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), Multi-Personalization System, Card Management System)
• Upgrading of the NIA Data Center from Tier II level to Tier III level
• Procurement of Disaster Recovery System
• Procurement of two MX-6100 card printers for 2-D bar code cards.
• Procurement of additional 2-D bar code cards
• Training of over 70,000 field operators for 12 Operational Regions
• Deployment of and compensation for 12,000 field operators for 12 Operational Regions
• Issuance of 9.2 million 2-D barcode ID cards to Ghanaian children under 15 years old
• Procurement of 65 operational vehicles and 60 motor bikes
• Procurement of two 350-KVA generator sets for the Data Centre
• Procurement of 1,600 generator sets for field operations
• Procurement of sundry registration materials and consumables (e.g. registration forms, challenge forms, oath forms, stationery, lockable boxes, environmental health and safety materials and kits, signage and directional signs, ropes, safety boots and reflective clothing
• Provision of mass communications and information services
• Insurance for NIA personnel, vehicles and equipment
• Refurbishment of NIA Headquarters Building
• Administrative expenses
2. For the first year of the Project, IMS II will bear the cost of $169 million out of the total project cost. This amount represents 58% of the Project cost, and will be spent on the following:
• Designing and building the technical platforms for verification
• Providing technical field operational support for all the over 25,000 NIA registration centres across the country
• Providing consumables for personalization with 1,100 Datacard printers
• Providing 2,500 mobile registration workstations
• Providing main communications integration system
• Providing web services for stakeholders
• Providing on-line registration and payment portal
• Providing 500 card issuance and verification hardware and software
• Providing 16.2 million dual-interface smart cards (148K) with 14 applets for stakeholders
3. During the 15-year life cycle of the PPP, NIA’s full cost of $531 million will be paid for under the revenue model. This cost includes the setting up and running of regional offices as well as zonal and district offices across the country, the payment of compensation for NIA staff, the production of 37.2 million 2D barcode cards and the running cost of the Authority in general. This amount is inclusive of the $124 million to be paid by the GoG in the first year.
4. On IMS II’s part, its full cost over the 15 year period will be $690 million and will also be paid for by the revenue model. This cost includes the cost of upgrading the technical system every 5 years, maintenance and the production of 52.2 million smart cards. This amount includes the $169.9 million to be borne by IMS II in the first year.
5. A total of 90,823,235 cards will be produced and issued to Ghanaians both home and abroad over the 15 years. The stated figure includes cards that will be reissued, replaced and renewed. The table below provides the breakdown:
Under 15 Years 15 Years and Above Issued Abroad
Mass Issuance ————— 9,160,850
New Issuance —————- 12,234,00
First Issuance ————— 21,394851
Replacement of lost——– 4,145,450
Total Issuance————– 37,164,701 Mass Issuance——15,418,774
Expiry Replacement —566,200
B. Land for Contract – Corruption, Thievery and Fraud
I categorically deny Mr. Agyepong’s allegation that I have engaged in corruption, thievery or fraud. The allegation is palpably false, malicious and defamatory.
The house in question was built between September 2009 and December 2011. The NIS contract between the NIA and IMS was executed on 16th April 2018 after Government of Ghana had directed the NIA on 22nd May 2017 to immediately engage the IMS to ensure the efficient roll-out of the NIS. Government’s decision was based on the recommendations of a technical committee of experts as I have previously stated. Evidently, the construction of a house between 2009 and 2011 could not have been influenced by a contract awarded in 2018! The following additional facts and points are pertinent:
1. I was appointed as Ag. Executive Secretary of NIA in July 2008 and was terminated in July 2009.
2. My wife and I commenced the construction of the house at Atomic Hills, Ashongman Estates, Accra, in September 2009. We took occupancy of the uncompleted house in December 2011, and continued to develop it gradually, one pay check at a time, until 2011. During that period, our children were described by their school colleagues as living in an “uncompleted house” and were made the laughing stock in the school yard.
3. My wife and I bought the plot of land from Mr. Moses Baiden who was introduced to us by a mutual friend, Mr. Stephen Ntim, following the demolition of our house by “National Security” shortly after my termination from office as Executive Secretary of NIA.
4. During my first period of stewardship at NIA, I never dealt with Mr. Moses Baiden, Group CEO of the Margins Group, although Margins was part of a consortium of companies that supported Sagem Morpho, the French company that won the international contract in 2006 to provide technical support to the NIA in the implementation of the NIS. Indeed, Mr. Baiden had already been part of the 2006 contract as the chair of the local consortium called the Ghana Identification Company (GIDC) as part of the local content obligation under the said contract. I was appointed in July 2008 to replace Prof. Ernest Dumor who had served as CEO for the period 2006 to 2008.
5. At the time of buying the land, I was not a public servant, and I had no way of knowing that I would return to head the NIA, or that I would become the chairman of a committee of technical experts to advise Government on a roadmap to revitalize Ghana’s NIS.
6. The allegations from the Honourable Member of Parliament for Assin Central can only issue from ignorance, confusion and/or needless malice. During the sittings of the Technical Committee, Mr. Agyepong once attacked me in the corridors of the SNNIT headquarters, menacingly threatening to “deal with me” drastically if I gave “the NIA contract to that Margins guy” and failed to “give it to [his] company from India which alone can do it for cheap”. I told Mr. Agyepong that I was only the chair of a Committee of technocrats, and we would work in good conscience and submit our report to Government, but “As for me and my household, we would serve the Lord”. Mr. Agyepong evidently bears me a grudge!
In conclusion, I have not taken a bribe from Mr. Moses Baiden or anyone else. I have not received a gift of land, cash or any other object of valuable consideration from any person for any work I have done or will do in future. I have not stolen any money from anyone. I have, on the contrary, acted with utmost integrity and professionalism and served the best interests of Ghana with my best intellect and best industry in my capacity as Ag. Executive Secretary of the NIA.
Regrettably, it appears that most people believe that if you are the head of a statutory body, you must be corrupt or dishonest, and you must be in a position to award contracts to companies and individuals as you please. I do not share those views, and I am not a rogue Ag. Executive Secretary. I will put anyone asserting the contrary, including their agents, privies or assigns who gives the platform for these vituperative and utterly defamatory statements to be made, to the strictest proof.
Prof. Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, Esq.
Ag. Executive Secretary, National Identification Authority