The Worrying Numbers of the NID

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The numbers popping out of the much publicized NID project paints a worrying picture. So worrying, one has to wonder whether it’s worth continuing with this project at all.

A few numbers have been released in the media for the public’s consumption.  On the face of it, the numbers may mean very little.  But if you put these numbers in a different context, for example value for money or other statistics, it paints a rather awkward picture.  A picture that makes you ask questions about whether the entire project is quite simply a waste of money.

The actual purpose of the project is a good one.  A large database populated with citizen names that could be helpful to the State in terms of identifying its citizens and knowing the eligibility of its citizens for elections and of course the usage of such cards for other personal purposes like opening bank accounts.

But is there a more cost effective way in which this can be achieved?

Let’s look at some of the numbers that’s been released in the local media.

  • System design and build K230 million
  • 150,000 registered on roll-out of program in 2015
  • Early last year, Minister Maru was optimistic that an estimated 1.5 million would be registered in 2018 alone
  • In 2018, 700,000 cards issued less than half the estimated target

If we were to punch some of these numbers in order to make some sense of them, the following can be revealed:

  • Minister Maru says the K230 million is only for design and build. This does not include the actual running of the system, which we understand has contributed to much of the delay in the system. If the K230 million is for design and build alone, just how much is the cost to run the actual system.
  • If 700,000 cards have been issued to date, it has cost the State a minimum of K330 per card to be issued. That’s one expensive card.
  • With 700,000 cards issued since the inception of the project, the yearly card issue rate is approximately 140,000.
  • At the rate of 140,000 cards per year and with a current population of roughly 8.5 million people (taking into account the system doesn’t improve), it will take around 60 years for all citizens at the date of this posting to receive their card (if, of course, they are lucky enough to be alive to receive it).
  • If you take into account the possibility of the population increasing, which it obviously does, it could take longer than 60 years.
  • The Life-expectancy rate in Papua New Guinea as per the World Bank records is 65.54. The bulk of the citizens are unlikely to get their card alive.
  • It gets more interesting when you consider the birth rate of PNG which sits at (based on the population review website) 626 per day. The daily rate on issue of NID cards is 383 just over 50% of the birth rate.  In other words, for every NID card issued, there are 2 babies born which means it’s double the work load.

What we can draw from the above figures is that unless the efficiency of the system is improved remarkedly or that a better solution is provided to fast-track the process, the PNG Government is not only fighting a losing battle but of more concern is the pumping of millions of Kina into a project that’s not going anywhere.

And the harsh truth is, some of us living beings won’t be alive to receive the NID card and enjoy the spoils of it.