Freetown, Thursday 20 February, 2020- The Director General of the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi, has engaged the media on the importance of the up-coming confirmation of personal details of registrants and the registration of the unregistered population (Citizens and Non-Citizens) resident in Sierra Leone, at the usual Thursday Government National Press Briefing at the Ministry of Information and Communications Conference Hall, Youyi building Freetown.
Explaining to Journalists the rationale behind the Press Conference, the Director General offered that it was to inform the general public on the commencement of the Confirmation of Personal Details of citizens and non-citizens resident in Sierra Leone and those who were registered with the Authority during the past registration, and to register those who have not done so before.
“The National Civil Registration Authority has convened this Press Conference to inform the general public that pursuant to its mandate, it will commence the Confirmation of Personal Details of citizens and non-citizens whose information are in the Authority’s Identity Management Database obtained from the 2017 Mass Civil Registration, Voter Registration and the 2018 Payroll Verification of all Public and Civil Servants, and to Register those who have not registered with the Authority,” Mr. Massaquoi told the Press.
He noted that the exercise which will commence on the 24 of March 2020, will be done by region and dates as follows: Western Area Urban and Rural, 24th – 31st March; Northern Region, 6th – 13th April; Southern Region 21st – 28th April; North – West Region 4th – 11th May; and the Eastern Region 18th – 25th May 2020.
Mr. Massaquoi also informed the Press that the purpose of such exercise is to give residents of this country the opportunity to correct, confirm and update their personal details with the NCRA, for the purpose of the development and maintenance of a Permanent Civil Register for multiple purposes. He added that only those whose details are in the Permanent Civil Register will be eligible to obtain Biometric National Identification Cards and to vote in all public elections starting with the 2022 Local Council Elections.
During the Press Conference, the Director General updated the Press that, with support from the Embassy of Ireland and the UNDP, teams comprising the NCRA, National Electoral Commission (NEC), National Election Watch (NEW) and other Civil Society Organizations have already commenced educating the public and raising awareness on the relevance of the confirmation and registration exercise including the nexus between the civil register and the voter register across the country.
“We are informed that the engagements with community stakeholders that includes all Local Councils and other local authorities are adding value to the process that we are about to commence in March,” the DG said.
Mr. Massaquoi further informed the Media that the Government of Sierra Leone through the NCRA with support from the European Union, the Irish Aid/Embassy of Ireland and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had commenced the Digitization of records of vital events which the Authority is mandated to cover beginning with Births and Deaths records dating back to the 1800s.
He informed the Press that the process is in line with guidelines set by the United Nations and other International Organisations. Digitization of records, Mr. Massaquoi confirmed will also put an end to the duplication of personal records of people. He maintained that this event will be completed in the coming four months and it will ameliorate the burden of manual record system and support Government’s fight against identity fraud and duplication of identity.
The Director General emphasized to the Press that civil registration systems remain the ideal source of population data in view of its outstanding attributes of permanence, continuity, universality and compellability, making it cost effective, reliable and sustainable. He said that the confirmation exercise will create short term employment for over 9000 Sierra Leoneans across the country, which will invariably impact on those employees and their families.
Mr. Massaquoi noted that in ensuring credibility, transparency and integrity of the entire process, the Authority will accredit Observers from Institutions/Organisations who are interested in observing the confirmation and registration process. He however maintained that Institutions/Organisations who wish to observe the process must apply for accreditation to the Director General of NCRA.
The Director General appealed to the general public to cooperate with the NCRA throughout the confirmation and registration exercise which will pave the way for the development of the permanent civil register and shall be the primary source of data on the population of Sierra Leone as enshrined in the NCR Act of 2016.
Asked by Journalists on the status of the national Identity cards and the funding source for the confirmation and registration process, the NCRA Director-General explained that the confirmation and registration process is one of the major step in the processes leading to the production and distribution of the multi-purpose Identity cards and that the public should expect such after the above exercise. He informed the Journalist that the Government of Sierra Leone is solely funding the confirmation and registration process. For those in the diaspora, the Director-General assured Journalists that mechanisms will be put in place to ensure their confirmation and registration and the information will be communicated to the various Sierra Leone Missions and Embassies abroad.