Preliminary Report: Uganda’s Digital ID System, A Cocktail of Discrimination

Published: 3/Feb/2020
Source: Unwanted Witness (Kampala)

Executive Summary

This report represents the findings of a preliminary study that sought to establish the impact of the National Identity Card system (commonly known as “Ndaga Muntu”) to people’s Economic, Social and Cultural rights, in relation to the state obligation to provide services. A random sample of 76 respondents was obtained with 53%M and 47%F. Data was collected using qualitative and quantitative tools. It was analyzed using Excel and STATA.


Content of Personal Information shared with government

From the findings, 25% Male and 13% Female respondents were uncomfortable with sharing a lot of personal information before getting the ID. Information relating to: ethnicity, tribe, parents details, TIN number, occupation, address and spouse details were considered to be an invasion of their privacy as well as a ploy by government to spy on them.

Data Security, Safety and Accessibility

The greatest level of data insecurity and mistrust was among those above 5O and below 30 years. The reasons for this was that there were high chances on data misuse, bribery and data hacking. Among the sampled respondents most had no problem with their data written on the front and the back of the card although they wanted a phone number added on the ID for easy contact in case it was lost or in case of an emergency.


Out of the total population sampled, only 12% of respondents had obtained their National IDs at the time of the study. A proportion of 88% had submitted their registration for ms but had not received their national IDs having waited for a period of over 6 months.

National ID as pre-condition to access services

Among the respondents that were inter viewed, 72% revealed that they were required to present a National ID before receiving a private service, a few mentioned that they were required to present a village council card, passport, driving permit, employee ID but for registration of the SIM card, no alter native was given but strictly, a National ID. Those denied access to private service were at 80%

In order to access Public service such as health care, agricultural Inputs (seedlings, piglets among others) and Mosquito nets, 70% of the respondents said that they were required to present a National ID and 85% of these respondents were denied a public service


  • Parliament of Uganda should review section 66 of the Registration of Person’s Act, 2015, and forthwith suspend pre-conditioning the enjoyment of basic fundamental freedoms and rights to a National ID until NIRA has the full capacity to deliver on its mandate.
  • Government should strengthen human, financial and technical resources of NIRA to enable efficiency and effective execution of the agency’s mandate of providing National ID to Ugandans in a timely manner.
  • Government, Civil Society actors and development partners should create open space for citizens’ engagement to ensure inclusivity of citizens’ voices in the implementation of the ID system and minimize its negative impact on human rights.
  • Ministry of Internal affairs should undertake an open national wide consultation on the National ID program to address public concerns associated with its implementation.
  • Government should enhance transparency around the National ID system, including fully disclosing the planned future scope and uses of the program, and instituting a policy to mandate the disclosure of any data breaches, including to any individuals impacted.

It is evident that the National ID is slowly becoming the only legally acceptable national identification document, which is sadly limiting the enjoyment of basic fundamental rights in Uganda, and in the process exacerbating exclusion, inequality and discrimination especially among the under privileged members of society.


Themes: ID Documents and Passports
Regions: Uganda
Year: 2020