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Digital ID in Africa this week: biometrics for public sector pay, passport and driving license problems



The issue of removing ghost workers from public sector payrolls comes to the fore this week. In Nigeria university staff are threatening to strike if their October salaries are not paid as a result of them not signing up to a federal payment platform which requires biometric capture. In Liberia the requirement for teachers to have both a bank account and biometric ID to be paid is only just getting going. The take up rate for ID is low and access to banking not guaranteed which means the two-month warning period may not be long enough for some. Niger’s biometric driving license saga continues to trundle on in the slow lane as an anti-corruption agency now finds fault with the Ministry of Transport, while in Chad there is a shortage of biometric passport booklets – though perhaps not if you’re willing to pay extra.

Nigeria: University staff to strike over enforcement of biometric salary system

University staff in Bauchi State are threatening to go on strike from November 1 if forced to participate in a biometric payment platform and are calling on lecturers nationwide to follow suit, reports The Premium Times.

The staff are federal workers and will strike from November 1 if the government acts on its threat to withhold their October salaries if they have not enrolled in the Integrated Personnel Payment Information System (IPPIS).

IPPIS captures the biometrics of the staff for validating their place on the payroll to weed out ghost workers. The Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) considers the move to IPPIS as an erosion of its autonomy and against Nigerian law. The stance of ASUU is causing something of a backlash by those who wonder what it is trying to hide by not having its members enrol.

Liberia: Teachers to need biometric ID in order to be paid

The Liberian government will switch to a new system of payment for school teachers from December which requires them to have a biometric ID card in an initiative aimed at removing ghost workers from the country’s payroll, reports the New Republic.

Staff pay is currently verified via a system known as ‘bulk check’ but ministries believe this method is open to fraud and abuse. All teachers and rural government staff will now have to open bank accounts and register for biometric ID cards. According to the report, 15,000 teachers have already done so.

Liberia’s expensive biometric ID card is still struggling to gain traction.

Chad: Biometric passports ‘unavailable’

No biometric passports have been issued since the end of August, according to the opposition party UNDR, reports RFI.

According to the report, the fault lies in a shortage of the green passport booklets which are then personalized for the bearer. The report states that since the end of last year, Chadian passports have been jointly issued by the police and ANTS – the National Agency of Security Documents, a mixed public-private company. The police establishes the applicant’s identity and ANTS makes the passport.

A source told RFI that those willing to pay double or triple the official fee of 86,000FCFA (US$146) can still receive a new passport in two or three days.

Niger: Ministry in charge of biometric driving license deal to face investigation

Niger’s anti-corruption agency has identified irregularities in how the Ministry of Transport handled the country’s deal to supply biometric driving licenses, the Ecofin news agency reports.

The High Authority for Combatting Corruption and Associated Offenses (HALCIA) sent a report to the head of state and public prosecutor on the irregularities identified in the procurement process and execution of the contract to issue biometric driving permits in Niger.

In July the Ministry of Transport announced the new scheme as a way to clear up driving offenses and align with a regional highway code. Drivers would have 12 months to acquire the new $20 permit.

The contract was awarded to Haroun Printing, according to La Hache. HALCIA identifies administrative errors but also criminal offenses in the ministry’s handling of the scheme plus a conflict of interest as the local partner of the concession holder is allegedly a close relative of the Minister of Transport, Mahamadou Karidio.

Ecofin reports that the scheme is still operating.


Kenya: Ndung’u Wainaina, executive director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict and Director of Public Protection on the need for the Kenyan government to guarantee data protection throughout its Huduma Namba project.

West Africa: Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, governor of the Central Bank of West African States (known by its French acronym BCEAO) says FinTech, biometrics are key to development in Africa.

In brief and updates

Update – Liberia: The Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy states it has launched the exercise to better regulate mining in the country which includes the issuing of biometric ID for artisanal mining.

Update – Nigeria: The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) brings in N11.7bn ($32m) to the federal government in first eight months of the year up from N7bn total for 2018; NIS boss states PPP (public private partnership) is good format and a review of some of the arrangements will double or triple revenue and claims his earlier stance on PPP was taken out of context.

In brief – Gambia: The Gambia Tourism Board airs its disappointment over the time taken for tourists to clear the new biometric immigration processing on arrival at Banjul International Airport.

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