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Digital ID in Africa this week: biometrics for tea workers, financial inclusion with a thumbprint


africa digital id biometrics Identity management

A new scheme launching in Sierra Leone could rapidly increase the proportion of the population with bank accounts as set up only requires a thumbprint. The country’s previous biometric capture work means the paperwork will be automatic. Biometric surveillance continues in Botswana and Morocco as elsewhere rights advocacy groups try to secure data protection legislation. Kenyan students win a science prize for a biometric healthcare access verification project, while Ghana’s Volta Region wins thousands more registrants for the Ghana Card after a rumor spread that it could be used as voting ID, reports the Graphic Online, taking the number of sign-ups to 487,000.

Sierra Leone: Biometrics and blockchain mean just a thumbprint can open a bank account

The entire population of Sierra Leone will be able to open bank accounts with just a fingerprint as part of a scheme built by U.S. microloan company Kiva and the Sierra Leonean government, the Financial Times reports.

The ‘Kiva Protocol’ biometric system links a thumbprint to a person’s identity, and the entire adult population of 5.1 million is already registered by the National Civil Registration Authority. Only 20 percent of Sierra Leoneans have bank accounts, but this system is intended to rapidly increase that rate and serve as a model for other countries, according to the report.

There is a data privacy policy in place and the scheme will allow the government to establish a universal credit bureau which could increase lending and boost the economy.

Botswana & Morocco: Facial recognition and biometric snooping

Botswana is installing 500 cameras equipped with facial recognition capabilities which will alert the police if a suspect is detected, reports The Patriot. The cameras are being installed in the cities of Francistown and the capital, Gaborone with the aim to reduce crime, with the hoped knock-on effect of increasing investment.

In January 2018 the Botswana Police Service signed a two-year deal with Huawei to run one of its Safe Cities projects, according to The Weekend Post. Projects have been set up in cities around the world, with mounting criticism of abuses of the system for political gain.

Meanwhile, Morocco has broadened the scope of its snooping on its own citizens via its Renseignements Généraux (RG) legislation, the branch of police which deals with political security.

The extensions include monitoring political parties and trade unions, as well as for investigating economic crimes such as corruption, and any other targets deemed fit, according to Medias 24. Social media will now be monitored to detect attempts at illegal assembly. The changes will also ensure “the management of the regulations on the border police, the residence of foreigners and the monitoring and monitoring of all regulated activities” and “manage biometric and demographic data as well as supervise documentation centers and identity documents,” the report quotes the new legislation as incorporating.

Uganda: Government to receive e-applications only for mining rights as it transfers to system with biometric worker monitoring

As part of the process to switch to an online mineral rights registration scheme commencing August 30, the Ministry of Energy has stopped receiving hard copies of applications, reports Dispatch. The new system will also incorporate the national biometric registration of artisanal miners.

Workers will also need to register in the Biometric Registration of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Project (BRASM). A statement from the Ministry of Energy includes an extra incentive to the digitization of the mining industry. All mineral rights holders and agents will have to clear any outstanding annual mineral rents, pay royalty arrears and submit quarterly and annual reports before August 30 deadline or face being automatically deleted from the system.

Kenya & Nigeria: Human rights groups raise concern about the lack of data privacy law

Advocacy group Paradigm Shift is one of the groups putting increasing pressure on Kenya’s parliament to reconsider the Huduma Namba bill, reports ITWeb Africa.

The group has joined others to raise the issue with parliament that the Huduma Namba project is proceeding without adequate data protection, fairness or transparency.

The same group recently failed in a similar bid in Nigeria. It tried to legally compel the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to suspend its projects until the country has a privacy policy in place. Nigeria does intend to establish a data protection council but has issues with creating a budgeting mechanism for it.

Kenya: Students earn scholarships to Ireland with winning biometric science prize entry

Students from SCLP Samaja School in Nairobi County won entry to the Irish BT Young Scientists and Technology Competition via a competition held by the Embassy of Ireland, for developing software that would biometrically identity patients for Kenya health facilities, reports Africa News.

Entitled Universal Health Care System, the software would also handle appointments, manage hygiene standards and record-keeping. The students will travel to Ireland to take part in the BT-Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in January 2020.

Senegal recently launched a similar system with technology from Credence ID.

Updates and news in brief

Guinea-Bissau opposition party Madem-G15 calls for biometric census to update records ahead of November’s presidential elections, reports Xinhua. Ghana’s national payment settlement organization GhIPASS welcomes the previously announced policy to ‘filter’ government worker pay through GhIPASS’s E-zwich biometric card mechanism and claims to be ready for the move, reports The Ghanaian Times. In Nigeria the Imo State governor is to pay 30,000 civil service pensioners who started work in 1976 after bringing in biometric checking to weed out ‘ghost’ claimants, reports The Sun Online. Kenya’s national tea development agency’s microfinance arm is to start using biometrics for verifying its 160,000 borrowers, reports Capital FM.

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