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Nigeria identity commission boss urges IT sector to support digital ID for social benefits

Nigeria identity commission boss urges IT sector to support digital ID for social benefits

Director-General Aliyu Aziz of Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) urged an audience of the country’s private and public-sector IT leaders to be prepared to actualize digital inclusion for citizens during a presentation at the 27th annual conference of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) in Ibadan, THISDAY reports.

Aziz emphasized the importance of digital identity to verifying individuals for access to social benefits, and said that the digital divide in the country creates divisions in access, but also in skills, economic opportunity, and democracy.

“Inability to prove identity is one of the biggest barriers preventing access to benefits, subsidies, exercise of basic rights as well as claiming entitlements. Without knowing who the people are, no government or private sector will be able to effectively deliver important services such as social safety net, elections, agriculture, pension and education, among others,” Aziz said.

He also urged the country’s IT leaders to build robust high-speed broadband networks, create incentives for investment in technology, build on their human capital, and improve digital skills in the education system.

Nigeria has been extending biometric and digital identity schemes to a range of areas, with recent announcements that fingerprint authentication will be required for the upcoming 2019 elections, and that the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) is planning to register the biometrics of every security guard in the country. Aziz said at the conclusion of ID4Africa 2018 in Abuja that NIMC expects to extend its national digital identity program to all citizens in the next several years.

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