Samia Reiterates Need for Universal National Identification 

The Head of State says the move will enhance national security and service delivery to the people.

Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan Thursday called for a streamlined and universal identification system to spare Tanzanians the inconvenience of walking around with several identity cards and having essential public services delayed.

The Head of State was speaking during a function to launch the 2Africa Submarine Cable and Airtel’s 5G High-Speed Communication Technology in Dar es Salaam when she urged all service-provision entities in Tanzania –both public and private– to consider establishing a universal identification system to ease service delivery.

Samia, whose government increasingly embraces technology in dispensing essential services to citizens, emphasised using the National Identification Authority (NIDA) number to achieve “a unified identity.”

“People have so many identity cards in our country,” the Head of State complained. “If you go to the banks, you find this information about Samia; if you go to the hospitals, you find that information about Samia. But can we harmonise these identities and create a single Samia identity?”

Samia’s suggestion is in line with the Tanzania e-Government Strategy 2022, which envisions a digital government that is more interconnected, integrated, and coordinated for the efficient delivery of public services.

READ MORE: Tanzania to Receive Technical Boost from Estonia on ICTs

The strategy, developed as a follow-up to 2013–2018, aims to enhance the delivery of better services to the growing Tanzanian population and increase transparency and cost savings in the delivery of existing services.

It seeks to develop a more robust, synergistic and holistic e-Government ecosystem to accompany Tanzania’s journey towards unified lockstep to achieve its goal of becoming a semi-industrialised economy by 2025.

“This lack of a unified identification also threatens our national security,” President Samia explained. “We want to know who is who; we want to be able to tell a citizen from a foreigner. It’ll spare our people a lot of inconvenience.”

In May 2023, the government said it was looking into possibilities of developing a universal national identification card. Minister for Home Affairs Hamad Masauni told the parliament that his office had held preliminary talks with relevant actors to make the idea realised.

Samia’s remarks have come a few days since Tanzania and Azerbaijan entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would see the former adopting the latter’s approaches to making services more easily accessible to citizens using modern technologies.

READ MORE: Tanzania Shows Interest in Adopting Azerbaijan’s Model of Service Delivery

The MoU between the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technologies and ASAN Service, Azerbaijan’s state agency for public services to citizens, was part of the activities carried out by the agency’s chairman, Ulvi Mehdiyev, during his recent visit to Tanzania.

ASAN, a short form of Azerbaijani Service and Assessment Network, was launched on July 13, 2012, as the country wanted to make its administrative services, such as issuing passports and driving licences, more transparent.

The initiative is credited for improving service provision efficiency and curbing corruption as it redefined relations between state agencies and citizens, eradicating or minimising direct contact between them and, as a result, enhancing transparency and eliminating opportunities for corruption.

The government of Azerbaijan achieved this by creating a one-stop shop for a wide range of state services, winning the country the 2015 United Nations Public Service Awards and improving its status in global corruption and transparency indexes.

“Now we have the work to look at all of the information already in NIDA’s possession,” President Samia added. “It is the responsibility of every Tanzanian to ensure that the information they shared with NIDA is correct, and if they are not sure, they need to go and check and make necessary changes.”

The 2Africa sea cable launched Thursday has been described as the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and the Middle East region.

The project is intended to enhance internet connectivity, capacity and reliability across Africa and the Middle East; with an estimated speed of 180 terabytes, the project is said to be one of the largest in the world.

It is expected to make internet connection cheap and faster.

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