Apr 8 , 2023

The suspension of the residential identification card issuance service imposed by the Addis Abeba City Administration a year ago is partially lifted. The service is open for university students, patients looking to go abroad for medical treatment, public employees that formed cooperatives to build housing units and a workforce under law enforcement.

Headed by Yonas Alemayehu, a law graduate of Mekelle University, who took the leadership role in September 2022 after serving as a deputy director for almost a year, the Civil Registration & Residency Service Agency officials selected these specific segments based on the urgency of their situation.

They opted to wait for a system upgrade before resuming the service fully.

"We're worried the current system may not handle the anticipated crowd coming to get the service," said Yosef Nigussie, communications head at the Agency.

He recalls the ban on ID renewal service that was imposed three months following the suspension of applying for a new resident ID, which resulted in more than a quarter of million people seeking the service after it was resumed. Yosef said they are concentrating on digitizing their record keeping while upgrading the system to allow the collection of biometrics data.

The system was upgraded to register eight million fingerprints in 2018 from its previous capacity of two million.

The Agency has collected 12.6 million Br from its services and digitally registered 92pc of the vital events in the nine months of the budget year, attributing the rest to people with disability.

According to Muzemil Hassen, system & database team leader at the Agency, the server is working beyond its capacity displaying information errors and delaying the process.

The one-line network known as Woredanet, which the agency shares with numerous city administration offices like the trade and revenue bureaus, is the additional justification for the lagging of services, according to Yosef.

Woredanet, the current government network, connects all the regional states and city administrations. In January 2019, the Ministry of Innovation & Technology planned to change the network with National Back Bone (NBB) with hopes of providing the public with fast and cost-effective service.

According to Yosef, the prolonged network failure pushed the Agency to eye installing its own network line, which is being tested across 38 woredas. He expects the new system to cut the service delivery time much shorter.

"Installing the infrastructure will take some time," said Yosef.

Novis residents that are waiting to get ID cards are impatient as they are hindered from getting multiple services.

Yabsira Gezahegn moved to the capital from Wonji town, five months ago to start a new job. He wanted to realise his dream of opening an advertising company but could not get a tin number or a business license because he could not get a residence ID. Yabsera is now employed in one of the private institutions to obtain a work ID.

"I get around with that," he told Fortune.

The Addis Abeba Innovation & Technology Development Bureau handles the update of the outdated system. The Bureau is a newly found office split from Addis Abeba Technical & Vocational Training & Technology over a month ago.

Yemane Dessalegn, the acting deputy head of the Bureau, has served in several positions at the Ministry of Peace, the Information Network Security Agency and the City Revenue Bureau.

The Bureau took the task and dispatched an invitation to 14 international companies in January. The project coordinator Berhanu Mikael said they chose to go with a closed bid to save time that would be lost in the bidding process as finding a qualified company fit for the job is rare.

Berhanu said the technical committee is overviewing the status of companies where the selected one will construct the infrastructure financed by the Bureau.

"Modernizing the system will speed up service delivery," he said.

Officials believe that it will foster the population growth estimated to be 5.1 million by 2037 which currently stands at 3.8 million people.

Arba Beyene, an independent lawyer argues prohibiting residents from getting identification cards violates the right to get public services. He believes the grounds for the suspension are inadequate as pressing issues such as security concerns are the only justifiable excuse.

"It should be backed with a plausible reason," said Arba.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 08,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1197]

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