THE government intends to issue national identification numbers (NIN) to citizens and residents below 18 years after it emerged that the group cannot register phone numbers biometrically.
The move has been informed by the fact that NIN and national identity cards issuance is limited to people aged 18 and above while there is no law prohibiting those below that age from operring mobile phones.
Home Affairs minister George Simbachawene (pictured) said this when responding to a number of issues raised by MPs when contributing to debate on the ministry’s budget estimates for the 2020/2021 financial year.
Simbachawene said the ministry has scheduled a meeting with officials from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and the National Identification Authority (NIDA) on how the matter can be worked upon.
He said the difference between total registered SIM cards through biometric system and the number of issued national identification numbers (NIN) is clear indication that many people have registered SIM cards for use by people who do not have NIN.
Recent data from the ministry show that TCRA has so far registered 37.2m SIM cards through biometric registration, but NIDA has only issued 21.8m NIN until last month.
He however clarified that the Registration and Identification of Persons Act, (No.11 of 1986) which was revised, gives NIDA the mandate to register and issue identity cards to Tanzanian citizens and eligible residents who are non-citizens with the age of 18 years and above.
Simbachawene defended NIDA’s slow pace in issuance of physical IDs insisting NIN is the most important as its use are acceptable in accordance with the country laws.
“We have over six million more people issued with physical IDs compared to those with NIN.
“The most difficult part in processing the numbers is identification and vetting of eligible Tanzanians. Let us be patient as the authority works to produce the physical IDs,” he said.
NIDA officials are working closely with their Immigration Department counterparts and local governments to ensure that only eligible Tanzanians are registered and given national identification numbers, he said.
Strict processes in border regions are necessary due to reality, that giving IDs to foreigners threatens national security. He said issuance of national identification numbers will resume by end of this month, the minister intoned.
Salum Mwinyi Rehani, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence, had earlier suggested that the government comes up with a strategy that will facilitate registration of eligible Tanzanians aged below 18 years.
“This will help documentation of their information as well as reduce the authority’s workload in future,” he said.
MPs commended the government for procuring two new machines with the capacity to produce 4,500 identity cards per hour.
The committee advised the government to provide NIDA with 4.4bn/- which is required for completion of the national identification and registration exercise countrywide before end of this financial year.
The minister said the government had set aside 5.2bn/- for the exercise in the past financial year but until February this year only 805m/- had been disbursed, about 15.4 percent of allocated funds.
“Delays in disbursing funds affects implementation of the exercise,” he remarked.