Digital ID in Africa this week: banks issuing biometric ID, tracking miners and a Global Fund tender

Digital ID in Africa this week: banks issuing biometric ID, tracking miners and a Global Fund tender

The application of biometrics continues apace across Africa. Biometric-backed ID is to begin for workers in Uganda’s informal mining sector. In South Africa a private bank updates its increasing number of biometric IDs it is issuing on behalf of the government, while the recipients of funding from the Global Fund are in search of a biometrics operator for a project. In Nigeria, the world’s seventh most populous country has now issued national ID numbers to 37 million people.

South Africa: Increasing number of biometric ID issued via banks

South Africa’s First National Bank has issued close to 160,000 biometric ID cards and passports on behalf of the country’s Department of Home Affairs, according to Business Report. Four banks are participating in the scheme to use their own biometric capture facilities to provide the service and reduce queuing times at government offices.

FNB customers can apply online to the Department of Home Affairs’ eChannel for a Smart ID card or passport and arrange to visit a branch for fingerprint and photo capture, and then return to the branch to collect the ID when it is ready. The bank has provided this service for 79,958 Smart ID cards and 78,529 passports from four of its branches.

Lee-Anne van Zyl of FNB told Business Report that the “partnership started in 2016 and in this period, we have seen the number of issued documents increase on an annual basis”.

Nedbank, Standard Bank and ABSA are also part of the scheme. In November 2018, the Department of Home Affairs announced that in the pilot phase from 2016 to August 2018, the four banks had issued 168,724 Smart IDs and 152,261 passports, according to Business Report.

As yet the four banks only offer the service at a total of 13 branches according to the Department of Home Affairs website, 12 of which are in Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria), with just one Standard Bank offering the service in Western Cape.

The department, which has issued 10 million Smart IDs over the past five years, is hoping to extend the program across a further 20 bank branches through a public-private partnership with the National Treasury.

Uganda: Biometric registration of artisanal miners to begin

Workers at artisanal and small-scale mines (ASMs) are to be registered and have their biometrics captured, as part of plans to improve standards in Uganda’s huge informal mining sector, according to New Vision.

The State Minister for Minerals Development, Peter Lokeris, launched the Biometric Registration of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Project (BRASM) project on 29 March. It will be handled by the African Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy (ACEMP), a Ugandan non-profit, and is supported by ActionAid Uganda.

Registration will involve taking the fingerprints and photos of miners, laborers, dealers and agents, in collaboration with the National Identification and Registration Authority. Workers will be issued with renewable permits. The project will also provide statistics and mapping of the mines and develop an overall management strategy for the sector.

According to Don Binyina, Executive Director of ACEMP, there is also the plan to develop the UG-Miner app for registering and regulating the movement of miners. The app will link the IDs generated to a database managed by the Department of Geological Survey and Mines.

“The project will create a database with all the bio-data of all miners including names, sex, age, location, association’s national identification numbers. It will cluster and code the ASMs in accordance with the commodity traded in,” said Binyina, “We expect to help ASMs meet international supply chain initiatives, traceability and standards.”

Artisanal mines extract gold, iron ore, tin, marble and wolfram. The unregulated sector is dogged with issues surrounding exploitation, environmental damage and smuggling. Child workers are thought to make up 20 to 30 percent of all miners in the country, according to UNECA.

At the launch, Vincent Kedi, principal engineer for the Department for Geological Survey and Mines, said more than 90 percent of the minerals extracted in Uganda come from ASMs.

Nigeria: 37 million now have National Identity Number

Over 37 million Nigerians have been registered for National Identity Numbers according to Lanre Osibona, Senior Special Adviser to the President on ICT, speaking at Lagos Fintech Week, according to Punch.

The new total is roughly a fifth of the population, up from 5 million registrations in 2015.

Osibona also mentioned other initiatives including the Federal Executive Council’s approval of a plan to harmonise the various identity agencies and develop a data protection and privacy bill.

He said the government is setting up an independent Data Protection Agency, adding “This is currently in the National Assembly for final adoption before being signed into law”.

The NIN is issued once all ten fingerprints, photo and electronic signature have been captured. The 11-digit number is the gateway to accessing government services and applying for the e-ID card. The NIN can be issued to Nigerians of all ages, including infants.

South Africa: Biometric registration tender renewed

A project aimed at providing a package of health, psychosocial and structural interventions to adolescent girls and young women in South Africa has extended its tender for a service provider to develop and maintain a biometric-based information system, according to NACOSA, one of the aid organizations involved.

The tender is open to South African civil society organizations and enterprises which must also be able to provide support throughout the three-year period of the Global Fund grant, July 2019 to May 2022. The organisations involved – NACOSA, the Aids Foundation of South Africa and Beyond Zero – tackle health issues such as HIV, TB and STIs.

A report (PDF) from the province of Kwazulu-Natal states that issues with implementation of biometric capture for enrollment in similar projects involving NACOSA have led to delays in making payments.

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