Digital ID in Africa this week: biometric ID progress in Liberia, Idemia deal in Guinea

Digital ID in Africa this week: biometric ID progress in Liberia, Idemia deal in Guinea

This has been West Africa’s week in digital ID news. Liberia may be adding a few more people to its biometric ID register if it manages to sign up those working in its mining sector, whether nationals or not. Next door in Guinea, French firm Idemia has signed a deal for the biometric capture of people taking part in a welfare program. Nigeria’s burgeoning ID scheme seems to have run out of money to issue people with cards, yet the central bank may want to move onto finger-vein biometrics. And in East Africa the government’s witnesses take to the stand to defend the Huduma Namba scheme in the High Court.

Are you an African civil servant interested in all things digital ID? If so, apply to be your country’s ambassador to ID4Africa.

Guinea: Idemia signs up for lower cost biometric capture

Guinea’s National Agency for Social & Economic Inclusion (ANIES) has signed a partnership deal with Idemia, aimed at cutting the cost of biometric capture in for recipients of a welfare program, reports Mosaique Guinee.

The World Bank had foreseen costs of $4-11 per person, while ANIES has struck a deal at $2.60 per person with Idemia. The six-month pilot will target 400,000 families before going nationwide in 2020.

Idemia’s Antoine Grenier, senior VP for security and identity in Africa said at the ceremony: “We’ll supply the biometric system, the infrastructure and will proceed with a local Guinean partner for the registration operations in the field. And we’ll deliver around a million cards to the families which are part of the scheme.”

The World Bank is funding a $50 million large-scale project to provide the population with biometric ECOWAS-standard ID cards requires a contractor for the biometric capture part of creating a new civil registry.

The UAE also recently announced a $75 million biometric-based welfare payment system in Guinea.

All Africa: UN agency calls on African nations to innovate to accelerate ID issuance

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) urged African countries to promote innovative ways to close the existing identity gap across the continent ahead of a pan-African conference on civil registration, Xinhua reports.

The conference organized by the African Union, ECA and the African Development Bank will see African ministers in charge of their countries’ civil registries meet from 14 to 18 October to look at ways to help more of the continents 500 million people without ID sign up.

Gabon: Biometric capture of civil servants to ‘rationalize’ numbers, find ghosts

The government of Gabon has launched biometric registration of public sector workers in an attempt to address the high – and fast-growing – numbers of staff on the payroll, reports the Gabon Eco.

Efforts in recent years to reduce numbers via restructuring programs and departmental limits have not gone far enough. In 2018, civil servant staff salaries were the equivalent of 59 percent of the country’s tax receipts. The Prime Minister, Julien Nkoghe Bekale, has called the registration exercise “a rationalization of the public service workforce.”

According to the report, Gabon has 55 public servants per 1,000 people compared to 13 per thousand in neighboring Cameroon. While the population of Cameroon is more than 10 times that of its southerly neighbor which would allow a low level, the number of public sector staff in Gabon rocketed 63 percent from 2007 to 2017.

Nigeria: Central bank could upgrade BVN to link finger-vein biometrics and device IMEIs

A future development for the Central Bank of Nigeria’s biometric bank verification number (BVN) is to upgrade from fingerprint to finger vein biometrics and also link to mobile devices’ unique IMEI numbers to increase security further, reports The Sun.

The central bank’s director of the Payments System Management Department, Sam Okojere, said at an event in Lagos: “We are upgrading the BVN to be the digital identity as far as payment is concerned. We are upgrading the biometric to veins. We are creating and tracing the App for it because, depending on the kind of job that you do, the finger tips, unlike the veins, may wear out. So we are lifting the biometric to the vein level so that it will be stronger.”

Linking this biometric verification to a device’s IMEI number should circumnavigate issues of SIM swap.

Nigeria’s Bauchi State is hoping to unlock development funding via World Bank disbursements with the use of biometric registration for BVN, reports The Tribune.

Meanwhile the National Examinations Council (NECO) has stated it wants to equip all 16,000 of the country’s exam centers with biometric verification machines and has already acquired 8,000, according to The Nation.

Liberia: Miners to have biometrics captured for National Identity Card

The biometric documentation of mining agents, mineral inspectors and mineral license holders has begun in Liberia following a workshop with the Mines and Energy Minister and 200 stakeholders from the mining industry, reports The New Dawn.

The Mines and Energy Ministry and National Identification Registry (NIR) are beginning the joint documentation process. The NIR will issue National Identification Cards and a Small-Scale Mining Identification Card (ASMID) designed by the ministry. The scheme will cover non-nationals working in the sector. The mining of iron, gold and diamonds is and increasingly important sector of Liberia’s economy.

Mines and Energy Minister Gesler Murray is quoted as stressing the importance of tracking the workers, many of whom have come from elsewhere in West Africa, highlighting the “economic, security and social implications of their presence in the bushes of Liberia”.

The scheme follows a similar project for Uganda’s artisanal miners which is now coming into effect.

Liberia: VFS Global launches biometric France/Schengen visa service in Monrovia

On behalf of the French embassy in Monrovia, VFS Global has opened a biometric visa center in the Liberian capital Monrovia, meaning travelers no longer need to travel to Abidjan in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire to apply, reports the Liberian Observer.

There have previously only been around 600 applicants per year applying in Côte d’Ivoire. The French ambassador is reported to have said that he had asked all partners involved to keep prices to a minimum, including Monrovia’s Royal Grand Hotel which will receive applicants twice a week.

Nigeria: NIMC to focus on issuing ID numbers rather than cards

Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is to devote more attention to speed up the processing of enrolments for the National Identity Number (NIN) due to a lack of funding for producing the ID cards themselves, reports PM News.

“So, with recession, we now refocus our attention to the issuance of the numbers because we have complicated projects and we needed to break it,” said NIMC Director-General Aliyu Aziz. He stated the commission was providing an online authentication system that would allow numbers to be authenticated, but also warned that the commission’s 1,000 enrolment centers is only a quarter of the recommended number to handle the country’s population.

Kenya: Government calls witnesses for Huduma Namba hearings

Following the first round of witnesses called by the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights which is opposed to the government’s mass ID scheme, Huduma Namba, the government’s own witnesses have been cross examined in Kenya’s High Court.

The principal secretary of the Interior Ministry, Karanja Kibicho, said that the reason why people have not been receiving their ID cards is due to the courts stopping the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) from processing the data collected, reports The Star.

Kibicho also stated that registration was voluntary and that no groups were discriminated against, reports Tuko.

Standing as a witness, the Principal Secretary for ICT, Jerome Ochieng, stated that the data collected during the NIIMS exercise is under secure protection, reports the KBC. Kenya does not have any data protection laws, but Ochieng told the court that the policy guidelines for access to the information are in place and that the policy is clear on what could and what could not be accessed, according to the KBC.

Meanwhile, Martin Mirero, the CIO of Huduma Kenya, the country’s e-services initiative has stated that Huduma service centers will one day provide 5,000 different government services in one-stop-shop locations, reports IT Web Africa.

News in brief and updates

Link – Call for ID4Africa Ambassadors: Apply to become your country’s representative to the ID4Africa movement

In brief – Uganda: A hospital overhaul includes biometric identification of patients

Update – Kenya: Star witness called to testify against Huduma Namba, Indian cybersecurity expert Anand Venkatanarayanan, interviewed by LiveLaw

In brief – Nigeria: Former pensions reform chief jailed for corruption including fake biometrics contracts, son pulls gun on police during arrest

Update – Somalia: Reuters article suggests that the use of biometrics for paying Somali military salaries may not be succeeding

In brief – Lesotho: VFS opens residence permit registration center

Update – Zimbabwe: Government reverses ban on mobile money payments

In brief – Uganda: Summary of the scale and speed of Mühlbauer ID card project.

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