President Ashraf Ghani on Friday met with various ministers, mission representatives and advisers from local and international organizations over the issue of electronic ID cards and appears to be considering the possibility of a pilot phase rollout campaign in Kabul.
In a statement issued by the presidential palace, consensus was reportedly reached that a pilot phase be rolled out so that major problems can be identified and ironed out before a national rollout campaign is launched.
Advisers suggested that equipment and systems be tested during such a phase so as to ensure that data captured is not lost due to any possible system breakdowns, read the statement.
Ghani asked that a working document be prepared and shared with him within one week on a possible pilot phase of the project.
He said that should a pilot phase be implemented, it will be rolled out in Kabul. He emphasized however that there was a need for close monitoring of the distribution of electronic ID cards.
Among those present at the meeting were the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, the Minister of Interior Affairs as well as representatives of European Union, Independent Election Commission, USAID, GIZ, and a number of other advisers as well as the president’s Special Representative for Reforms and Good Governance, Ahmad Zia Massoud.
The president’s adviser, Dr Qader Wedan, kicked off the meeting with his working report on the distribution of the ID cards. This was followed by presentations by other participants and technical expatriate advisers also presented their views and recommendations.
One suggestion was that 20 million ID cards should be distributed within three to nine months. However, most people present felt it would be impossible to distribute cards to all citizens across the country in this period of time.
But Ghani reiterated his stance on the need for electronic ID cards and said that they were critical to holding fair and transparent elections. He added however that although the public has demanded electronic ID cards “no practical plan has been presented to him in this regard so far”.
In addition to a pilot phase plan, Ghani also asked advisers for a report on what other options are available in terms of distribution the cards. He asked that this report be ready for their next meeting, the statement read.