Ghana Card to become e-passport as Ghana makes massive gains in digitisation agenda

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Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia

Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia yesterday revealed that Ghana’s unique biometric identification card, the Ghanacard, will soon become an electronic passport for all Ghanaians.

He also disclosed that, from next year, every new born child delivered in Ghana will get, within a few months, a Ghanacard number.

He made these disclosures when he delivered a public lecture at the Ashesi University on the role digitisation is playing in transforming the Ghanaian economy.

Dr Bawumia spoke extensively on the crucial roles the Ghanacard is playing as a catalyst for the digitization drive.

E-passport

The next function of the Ghanacard, the Vice-President revealed, will be its use as an e-passport for Ghanaian citizens travelling back home.

“It is not widely known that the Ghanacard is also an electronic passport (e-passport) that contains the biometric information that can be used to authenticate the identity of travellers,” Dr. Bawumia said.

“We have been working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) this year to globally activate the e-passport function of the Ghanacard, and I am happy to announce that on 13th October 2021, Ghana officially became the 79th member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Public Key Directory (PKD) community. The ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD) is a central repository for exchanging the information required to authenticate e-passports,” he said.

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Security

Throwing more light on the e-passport function, Dr Bawumia said the PKD allows border control authorities to confirm in less than 10 seconds that the e-passport was issued by the right authority, has not been altered, and is not a copy or cloned document.

Dr Bawumia added that a ceremony would be held in Montreal, Canada, in the first quarter of 2022 to enable what is known as a Country Signing Certificate Authority to be imported into the ICAO PKD System.

“This means that the Ghanacard will be recognized as an e-passport and can be read and verified in all ICAO compliant borders (in 197 countries and 44,000 airports in the world).

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“When this happens, holders of the Ghanacard will be allowed to board any flight to Ghana. Furthermore, the good news for diasporan Ghanaians is that when the Ghana Immigration Service is linked to the NIA architecture, diasporan Ghanaians who hold the Ghanacard should  not have to obtain visas to travel to Ghana.”

The Vice-President also revealed that the Ghanacard, which is already valid for travel to all ECOWAS countries, is being linked with existing passports so that travel history will be preserved.

E-Pharmacy

Outlining a long list of innovations either undertaken or on the cusp of take-off, Dr Bawumia announced the impending launch of the E-Pharmacy, which would involve the digitization of pharmacies in Ghana.

“Patients or people generally face difficulties when trying to find medicines in pharmacies. They have no way of knowing which pharmacies have the medicines. They could go to five pharmacies before getting lucky. Sometimes patients are directed to go to specific pharmacies to buy the medicine, denying them any advantage there might be of choosing from a lower priced shop.

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“People also don’t know what the prices of the medicines are at different pharmacies and tend in their time of vulnerability to just buy at the prices offered when they find the drug. It is also difficult to tell whether the medicines are genuine or fake. There is also the problem of drug abuse with prescription medicines like Tramadol,” he stated.

“To address these problems, in 2019, I challenged the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to digitize the operations of pharmacies in Ghana. Following this and working with my office, the Pharmacy Council in collaboration with the private sector has completed work on a digital platform for all pharmacies in Ghana and a pilot of 45 pharmacies is currently ongoing,” he added.

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