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FACT-CHECK: Bawumia misleadingly claims Ghana Card is now recognized globally as a valid e-passport

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Claim: Ghana Card duly recognized globally as a valid e-passport.

Verdict: MISLEADING

Source: Mahamudu Bawumia

Researched by Rabiu Alhassan.

“Ghana Card is now an e-passport,” has been dominating the news cycle over the last 48 hours in Ghana after the country’s Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia announced it to the public across popular social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter.

The second gentleman in November 2021 during a lecture (Full Speech) at Ashesi University had hinted of efforts by the government to get the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to recognise the Ghana Card as an e-passport by the first quarter of 2022.

Ghana has since become the 79th member of the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD) and according to Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, “Ghana’s National Identity Card (the GhanaCard) will now be duly recognized globally as a valid e-passport/ID card.”

Similar claims about the Ghana Card have been repeated by the National Identification Authority (NIA) and Ghana’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ransford Sowah during the “Key Ceremony” on Wednesday, February 9, 2022, at the headquarters of ICAO in Montreal, Canada.

A number of credible online news platforms in Ghana (here, here, here, here, here and here) have published stories reinforcing the claims that have been made by the top Ghanaian state officials.

Fact-Check

GhanaFact as part of our verification of the claims made by the Vice President, Ghana’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ransford Sowah and National Identification Authority (NIA) sent an email to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to clarify:

1. Whether the ICAO has indeed verified Ghana’s national ID, the Ghana Card as a global electronic passport.

2. Whether the Ghana card can now be used to travel across 197 borders and 44,000 airports in the world.

3. Whether the ICAO can make available any assessment report carried out ahead of the verification.

4. Whether Ghana made any payment before securing the verification if indeed the claim is true.

“Ghana is a participant in the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD),” a Communications Officer at the Office of the Secretary-General International Civil Aviation Organization, William Raillant-Clark confirmed in an email response to GhanaFact on February 10.

The ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD) is a central repository for exchanging the information required to authenticate electronic Machine Readable Travel Documents (eMRTDs) such as ePassports, electronic ID cards and Visible Digital Seals.

However, “the establishment of international travel requirements, and immigration policy generally, including what (if any) documentation must be provided by the traveller, is wholly and exclusively a sovereign state responsibility,” the ICAO clarified.

A subsequent tweet by the verified handle of the ICAO said the reports that it had agreed that the Ghanaian ID card is equivalent to an ePassport were “incorrect.”

It also remains unclear what informed the claim by Ghanaian authorities that the Ghana card can now be used to travel across 197 borders and 44,000 airports in the world because the “ICAO only has 193 member States, and of these 79 participate in the PKD (including Ghana),” the William Raillant-Clark said.

Since 2011, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been operating a database for which each authorized state provides a cryptographic key: the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD).

However, inclusion in the ICAO PKD is subject to strict conditions and in particular, the production and issuance of passports in the country concerned must meet high-security requirements.

Cryptovision, a Gelsenkirchen-based company that provided Ghana with both software and consulting services ahead of the country being accepted into the ICAO Public Key Directory referenced the Ghanaian passport and not the Ghana Card in meeting the requirements that got the ICAO to include the country’s key in their PKD.

“Cryptovision is especially proud of this, as the Gelsenkirchen-based company has built the cryptographic infrastructure for the Ghanaian passport. For instance, the authority issuing digital certificates for the Ghanaian passports is operated with the cryptovision product CAmelot.” Cryptovision stated in a blog post on its website.

GhanaFact has since sent an email to the Senior Vice President Marketing of Cryptovision, Veronica von Preysing seeking further information about the company’s role in helping Ghana to be accepted into the ICAO Public Key Directory and is yet to get a response.

Deleted Tweet

Between 7:00 am and 7: 20 am on February 12, GhanaFact found that handlers of the verified Twitter account of the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia had deleted a tweet he posted saying: “…Ghana’s National Identity Card (the #GhanaCard) will now be duly recognized globally as a valid e-passport/ID card”

However, we found that the same Tweet had already been copied and republished by Ghana’s Presidency’s Twitter handle.

Meanwhile, the Facebook post by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on February 10 announcing that “Ghana’s National Identity Card (the GhanaCard) will now be duly recognized globally as a valid e-passport/ID card,” which has generated more than 5,000 interactions is still available on the popular social media platform.

Not a global regulator

According to the ICAO it is not an international aviation regulator.

“We cannot arbitrarily close or restrict a country’s airspace, shut down routes, or condemn airports or airlines for poor safety performance or customer service,” the ICAO has stated.

Verdict

Ghana has now been accepted into the ICAO Public Key Directory. But it is MISLEADING to claim that the ICAO by this has agreed to recognise the GhanaCard as a valid e-passport.

Source: ghanafact.com