Digital ID in Africa this week: biometric ghost-busting in Ghana, resolving double registration status in Kenya
Kenya dominated digital ID developments this week. What could have been its biggest story – downgrading the new role of an independent data protection commissioner to a president-appointed agency — failed to happen, but the issue of double registration of people as refugees and Kenyans is coming to the fore as a de-registration exercise launches. Meanwhile, police payrolls are being merged to cut fraud and new biometrics-based ID is being issued to protect mangroves. Ghana is to step up doorstep registration of pensioners to remove ghost recipients (though some have reappeared with definite signs of life) and the country’s nurses could be facing an increasingly widespread problem in Africa where authorities enforce biometric registration for receiving a salary without making the registration resources available.
France/Africa: Coppernic in Ethiopia, Kenya amid claims company will give biometric ID to ‘millions of Africans’
Jacky Lecuivre, CEO of Coppernic, stated that the company’s strategy is to “contribute to the construction of digital identity registers in very many countries that absolutely want to be at the meeting in 2030 for the SDGs signed by the UN in 2015” speaking at the #AmbitionAfrica 2019 forum in Paris with delegates including France’s secretary of state, reports Africa Presse.Paris.
The Sustainable Development Goal in question is for a legal identity for all by 2030. Over a billion people worldwide are undocumented, roughly half of whom live in Africa. The fast-growing company is putting its hopes in its multi-purpose biometric tablet which went on display at ID4Africa in June 2019.
To facilitate the building of digital civil registries, Lecuivre said, “mobile devices are being made available, and our agents will go to all the countries to carry out a census and capture biometric data. By going to meet individuals to ask them their surnames, first names, dates of birth, we will collect all this. But above all, we will record their fingerprints and capture their irises.”
Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed visited France in October 2018 and asked President Macron for help in registering its 110 million citizens. Lecuivre said that he joined a delegation of French businesses on a trip to Addis Ababa and Nairobi in March arranged by Business France and MEDEF International, France’s organization to promote its business interests globally: “And thanks to the strength that can be gained by participating in this type of business delegation,” the company will manufacture thousands of tablets to “give a biometric identity to millions of Africans.”
Kenya: Crowds gather to resolve ‘double registration’ status
Human rights groups are reporting on Twitter the arrival of crowds of people attending launch sessions of ‘double registration’ vetting in Garissa County with the hope of losing their refugee status linked to them biometrically by the UNHCR. The full scheme will run November 11 to December 11.
— Haki na Sheria Initiative (@Haki_na_Sheria) November 7, 2019
Garissa borders Somalia, the country of origin for around 55 percent of the almost 500,000 refugees in Kenya, and is home to large refugee camps. These camps have been gradually emptying as refugees voluntarily return home, but a verification exercise in 2016 revealed there are 40,454 cases of double registration where a person is biometrically registered both as a refugee with UNHCR and has Kenyan ID or has even just applied for it. It happens when refugees marry Kenyans, children are born in Kenya to refugee parents or who have registered as refugees in times of famine.
The two identities clash, rendering the double-registered as effectively stateless and in limbo for many aspects of life such as formal employment. The Kenyan government was hoping to close the camps in part blaming them for harboring terrorists, but doing so would mean the double-registered would have nowhere to go. They may not ‘return to their home countries’ as they are Kenyans or qualify as Kenyan.
A new Refugee Bill is also coming into effect and Kenya’s latest census results, which involved biometric capture, reveal the population has grown from 37.7 million in 2009 to 47.6 million as of August.
Kenya: Biometric ID cards to protect mangroves
Registered fishermen and foresters on the north Kenyan coast will be issued with biometrics-based smart ID cards in an attempt to protect fisheries mangroves, reports the Thompson Reuters Foundation.
The cards will feature the holder’s photo and fingerprint and can be read wirelessly by smartphones with the relevant software and capabilities.
Unregistered loggers have masqueraded as fishermen to illegally clear mangroves which are fast degrading in Kenya.
Kenya: Police payrolls to merge and use biometrics to help save $16.5M a year in fraud
Kenya’s National Police Service is to merge the payrolls for three divisions and run the system from the Office of the Inspector General in order to tackle fraud, reports The Standard. The scheme follows the capturing of staff biometrics.
The Administration Police Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Kenya Police Service will cease to operate their own payrolls. There have reportedly been issues of officials awarding inflated salaries. According to the report, Sh1.7billion (US$16.5 million) are lost in fraudulent wages each year.
Previous biometric registration efforts rooted out 2,648 ghost workers across the three divisions.
Ghana: Door-to-door biometric capture for pensioners as 56 million cedis saved by eliminating ghosts
To tackle non-existent ghost pensioners, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust has adopted door-to-door biometric capture to reach and register more pensioners, reports the Ghana News Agency.
8,000 ghost pensioners were detected in the first phase of the exercise though 2,000 of those then presented themselves for biometric registration and were re-instated. So far the Trust has saved 56 million cedis ($10 million) by detecting ghost pensioners. Doorstep registration for the less mobile is hoped to speed up the overall registration exercise.
News in brief and updates
In brief – Ghana: a dispute between nursing staff and the authorities could lead to a nursing strike. Nurses are required to register biometrically for pay but say the facilities are not available and will strike if their pay is withheld.
In brief – Kenya: Bill amendments were proposed to downgrade the creation and appointment of a data protection commissioner to the creation of a ‘semi-independent’ data protection agency with a chairperson appointed by the president, but were withdrawn on the day of the hearing.
In brief – Nigeria: Hope that biometric ECOWAS ID cards could improve the situation of border closures. Nigeria frequently closes its borders, particularly with Benin, due to illegal trade. Issuing border area traders – who typically don’t have ID documents or passports – with ID could help in regulating cross-border trade.
Link – Nigeria: Our coverage of an institution in Nigeria’s Imo State joining BIO-Key’s Channel Alliance Partner program for civil ID and multi-factor authentication.
Update – Ghana: 900,000 participants in Planting For Food scheme biometrically verified.
In brief – Nigeria: biometric capture for issuing driving licenses with a view to improving road safety.
Africa | biometric enrollment | biometrics | Cameroon | Coppernic | Côte d’Ivoire | data protection | digital identity | Ethiopia | Ghana | identity document | identity verification | Kenya | Morocco | Nigeria | refugee registration | UNHCR