Uganda IDs to Ease Business

Business people in Kampala are optimistic that the new national identity cards (IDs) now being issued will be helpful in cubing fraud.

This is a first for Uganda.

Last week, the government began distributing the new IDs beginning with the Central Division in Kampala. According to sources, the process will be expanded further afield and involve dishing out nearly 16 million cards to date. President Museveni and his wife, Janet, are the recipients of the first two cards.

There is a common view that with the new IDs official processing of documents to carry out business in Uganda and in the region in general will be much easier.

Ernest Kyeyune who imports goods from Kenya and Tanzania and sells them to different traders in Kampala is hopeful that the acquired national IDs will enable then to move around the East Africa with less difficulty.

“If what they said about the importance of national IDs is put in practice, then I am hoping the long processes of getting a local area introductory letter and other small documents that take a lot of our time and money will be eliminated and we can do business more easily. I also heard these IDs will be working across the East Africa Community without a passport. If that can be true, then there will be a lot of changes in business dealings,” he said.

Sarah Nabulenge, a mobile money operator downtown Kampala says with the introduction of national IDs, the fraud that has been taking place in the mobile money service will also reduce.

“Since the mobile money networks have registered the customers, with the national ID, it will be easy to identify the person and be sure that the account they are withdrawing money from is theirs. There are instances where someone comes with another person’s phone and withdraws money from it illegally. When the genuine person goes to the mobile money centre, they are told the money was already withdrawn,” Nabulenge said

Jacqueline Tumwebaze who owns a boutique in Kampala hopes that the banks will attach more importance to these national IDs and possibly use them while issuing out loans or other services.

“For example, when you want to get a loan in the bank, there are a lot of documents that you are required to have, like a letter of introduction from your local areas and other documents. Getting those documents delay us and cost us money as some local leaders want you to bribe them to hurry the process of getting you these simple documents. With a national ID, it will be easy to identify someone,” Tumwebaze said

Pauline Kigongo another trader who importers ladies’ perfumes and other cosmetics, said IDs very important especially to some people who move outside Uganda for business.

Soren Hakim, a Ugandan of Somali origins and who has been living in Uganda for the last 20 years with his family and now operates an electronics shop in Kampala said he is eagerly waiting to receive his card. “Sometimes we are treated with ridicule from some service providers because of our colour. They always want to charge you expensively for a service. I and my family were very glad when we were registered as Ugandans and we want to receive our national identities so that we can also enjoy the services like other Ugandans.”

However some traders have expressed worries over the possibilities of forgeries. The government has however assured citizens that the cards are very difficult to forge..

Emma Ombaga is worried some people forge them anyway.

“In Uganda it is easy to get any kind of document if you have the money. When someone needs something, they will go to any levels to get it and these national identities will be taken aantage of and people might end up being fooled more than when we did not have them. If someone presents you with a fake national id and you are unable to detect it, it will be easy to trust this person which might bring up security and fraud issues,” Ombaga said

Source : East African Business Week

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