Digital ID in Africa this week: Data protection in Togo, biometrics secure welfare payments in Zambia
Positive news for digital ID across Africa as Togo votes through legislation to protect personal data and how it is held, and Zambia seeks to launch a biometrics-based verification system to ensure welfare payments reach the correct recipients. More contracts are up for grabs as Chad opens a tender for updating its electoral register and Idemia wins again in Morocco. South Africa continues to modernize its travel infrastructure with its e-Visa project entering the pilot scheme. Yet the head of Nigeria’s immigration service claims PPP deals for overseas passport application centers have cost the country dearly and the Ugandan government has entered a spat with its telecoms regulator over its unilateral decision to no longer accept refugee ID for SIM registration.
Togo: Parliament passes data privacy legislation
Togo’s parliament voted in legislation to protect personal private data on 23 October, reports Togo First. The law defines the legal and institutional frameworks for private data.
A member of parliament is quoted as saying, “In the digital age, the digital identity of every citizen becomes an issue. And it must be protected as much as one’s physical and civil identity, in particular by the implementation of a process of digital identification and the implementation of a biometric identity card for the citizens”.
Togo has trailblazed areas of digital development in part thanks to its visionary minister for digital, Cina Lawson. Togo will now join an exclusive – but growing – club of African nations which grant their citizens data privacy.
Zambia: Government to launch biometric social welfare payment scheme
Zambia is launching a biometrics-based system to disburse funds under its Social Cash Transfer scheme by the end of the year to sidestep bottlenecks that have hampered the program so far, reports The Lusaka Times.
The Ministry for Community Development and Social Services alongside the Smart Zambia Institute, an agency tasked with implementing e-governance, had sought a way to distribute payments without having to go through in-person meetings with an officer. Not all money had been reaching its intended recipients.
The ministry also announced that the number of recipients will increase from 630,000 to 700,000, around 4 percent of the population, before the end of the year. The same technology will be rolled out to the Food Security Pack scheme and others.
Chad: Call for tenders makes Chad the latest African ID hotspot
Chad’s electoral commission has issued a call for tenders for updating its electoral roll ahead of parliamentary elections which now seem certain to go ahead in April 2020, reports Africa Intelligence.
France’s Idemia had held the contract up to now and also has contracts for biometric ID and passports. Africa Intelligence reports that the head of the electoral commission, Issa Adjidey, is not well-disposed to the firm.
These elections have been continually postponed but with a more definitive timetable, the tender process is open and five foreign firms are thought to be in the running. Idemia’s French rivals Gemalto and SELP are in the bidding as is Belgium’s Zetes and IEC Electronics from the US.
South Africa: e-Visas and e-Gates coming to South African airports
Tourists requiring a visa will be able apply for an e-visa from November which will capture application data and biometrics online in advance. Trials in a controlled environment have already begun and the month-long pilot will test the resilience of the system, initially with Kenyan travelers arriving at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo and Lanseria airports.
e-Gates will also be introduced at airports, beginning for South African adults heading abroad from Cape Town airport. No specific date has been given.
Morocco: Another win for Idemia as it snaps up driving license and logbook contracts
French firm Idemia keeps getting more contracts in Morocco and across Africa. This latest contract will see the giant provide electronic driving licenses and vehicle logbooks, reports Africa Intelligence.
The new licenses will be phased in from January 2020 and modernization efforts began in August for licensing. As of 2015 there were 3.6 million registered vehicles in Morocco, a figure which has doubled since 2005 as over 150,000 additional vehicles go onto the roads each year.
Uganda: Government-regulator spat as refugees barred from registering SIMs with biometric ID
The Ugandan government is clashing with the telecoms regulator over the latter’s decision to suspend registration of SIM cards by refugees using biometrics refugee identity cards using the UNHCR’s biometric platform, reports the Daily Monitor.
The Office of the Prime Minister has criticized the Uganda Communications Commission’s decision to suspend the acceptance of refugee ID – issued by the OPM – on the grounds of fraud. This fraud followed a Daily Monitor story that revealed that unscrupulous telecoms agents were committing forgery and fraud with the ID cards.
The OPM insists the documents are valid and it will prosecute all those involved in forgery.
Nigeria: Head of immigration services states the country lost $50m in PPP deals
Mohammed Babandede, head of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has criticized the Interior Ministry’s public private partnership (PPP) deals with private companies to set up passport application centers in the U.S., Canada and nine other countries, stating that they are detrimental to the efficiency of the NIS and that N18bn ($50m) had been lost after a court awarded the sum to the companies following a case brought by the NIS to cancel the contracts, reports This Day.
Babandede also said that President Muhammadu Buhari has already taken up the matter with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the agreements. He also stated that none of the agency’s budget for capital projects in 2019 has yet been released.
Saudi Arabia/Africa: Saudi Arabia appoints VFS TasHeel to process biometric tourist visas for nationals of 11 African countries
As Saudi Arabia opens up its tourism sector, VFS TasHeel, an authorized visa service provider for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has announced it will launch tourist visas for the Kingdom at its application centers in 30 countries and the new visa policy will apply to nationals of 11 African countries: Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and South Africa, according to a press release.
The service centers can capture biometrics and link them to passport details. Tourists will be able to travel to Saudi Arabia on these visas for umrah (pilgrimage taken at any time of year) but not for Hajj when a specific visa is required.
Nigeria: Mobile money growth hampered by lack of harmonized ID database
The executive director of financial business at Lagos-based banking and cybersecurity firm Inlaks states that the country’s mobile money sector will be held back until Nigeria builds a credible national ID database. Olufemi Muraino said that Nigeria needs to harmonies its various ID databases, as reported in the New Telegraph.
News in brief and updates
In brief – Malawi: Electoral supervisors being trained in use of biometric registration kits warned that indiscipline will not be tolerated, following still-disputed May presidential election.
Link – Uganda: Our coverage of Mühlbauer’s rapid rollout of ID systems and border control in Uganda, Mozambique.
In brief – Tanzania: National Election Commission attempts to clear confusion surrounding upcoming civic elections, clarifying that NEC-issued voter ID will not be used.
In brief – Nigeria: Two impersonators arrested at biometric signup center after attempting to register as their fathers. Biometrics prevailed.
Update – Tanzania: As deadline looms, SIM registration campaign having positive results – according to campaigners.
In brief – Nigeria: NIMC reiterates NIN is free, is not temporary as the number is for life and clarifies the process for minors.
Link – All Africa: Our coverage of the speech UNECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe speaking at the fifth Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration.