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Biometrics and digital ID in Africa: GenKey in Niger, Securiport in CAR, new reseller partner for Daon in SA


Digital ID and biometrics in Africa this week: GenKey in Niger, Securiport in CAR, a new reseller partner for Daon in SA

Heading into a new decade there’s a clear theme in Africa’s digital ID sphere: looming deadlines. First up is Tanzania’s already extended biometric SIM card registration deadline of January 20 then its analogue passport deadline of January 31, the same day Ghana’s pensioners have to have their biometrics registered by in order to keep receiving their pensions.

There is also plenty of supplier news: GenKey is embarking on a World Bank project in Niger, Securiport is setting up in Central African Republic while completing its exit transfer in Equatorial Guinea and Daon finds a resale partner in South Africa.

Niger: World Bank and GenKey collaborate for civil servant and student biometrics

With funding from the World Bank, GenKey is collaborating with the Government of Niger to roll out biometric registration and verification schemes for future human resource management for civil servants, manage student grants and allocate pensions.

This first phase will see GenKey facilitate the biometric capture of around 400,000 individuals – civil servants, students receiving grants and retirees – and their metrics added to a newly-created database. They will be issued with smartcards which will contain a barcode for easy reading.

GenKey has deployed its Necto hardware for fingerprint capture and verification, plus its SPiRE identity management system to allow use of the data in multiple contexts and its ABIS software for deduplication.

“Being able to ensure that the Government of Niger is only paying legitimate beneficiaries is essential and provides a quick return on investment for the project,” says Claire Hanounou, Director of the team at the ministry of Finance. “Moreover, the biometric registration will allow some future applications to be deployed, such as proof of presence and biometric identification for sensitive access control.”

Bruno Moreau, chairman of GenKey’s advisory board, told Biometric Update that existing civil service payrolls were “beyond obsolete” meaning that some individuals were claiming state benefits on all three counts – being a civil servant, university student while simultaneously retired. “They need to have a ‘clean’ database so as to record all the people who benefit from state money and therefore, as you can imagine, the return on such a project will be very quick,” said Moreau who described the current grant allocation system for students as a “totally chaotic” cash-based service.

GenKey will send capture teams out nationwide to register the biometrics of students and civil servants and use its findings to write recommendations of what sort of human resource management system is needed. This system will be the second phase of the project, subject to tender. The databases created will subsequently be linked to other government systems.

The project will run against the context of Niger’s deteriorating security situation with bodyguards accompanying so. In the next steps, GenKey will go on to provide biometric cards to the military, albeit with enhanced security features.

Central African Republic & Equatorial Guinea: Securiport enters and exits

Securiport announced that it has signed a deal with Central African Republic to provide its proprietary Civil Aviation and Immigration Security Services (CAISS) while it has also completed transfer of its border security services to the government of Equatorial Guinea.

“Due to the unique build-maintain-transfer business contracts, they are all long-term by nature to ensure that appropriate operating systems are installed, and that immigration officers and law enforcement receive adequate training to maintain the systems,” Securiport spokesperson Anna Klapper told Biometric Update. “Consequently all of our contracts start the transfer process on day 1.”

For installation in Central African Republic, this means implementing full biometric screening to enhance existing immigration control at Bangui’s M’Poko International Airport. Exiting from Equatorial Guinea after a decade which has seen successes such as a commendation from INTERPOL for security operations for the preparation for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, has meant training local security staff in threats such as stolen travel documents, human trafficking and transnational crime.

“Securiport provides all investment upfront and we ensure that local partnerships are established to create successful relationships, invest in the local economy and create jobs in the communities we are working in,” said Klapper, adding that many contracts are renewed but the ultimate goal is to transfer systems to the the state.

Nigeria: ID centers flooded by exam candidates despite reversal of ID requirement

Nigeria‘s National ID Number registration centers are still being inundated by candidates hoping to get their ID numbers for sitting exams, despite the examination board removing the necessity to do so due to the National Identity Management Commission’s inability to process them, reports The Tribune.

The Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) had previously introduced the need for biometric ID in order to take the university entrance exams. However, the realities of attaining a number have meant that for this year the biometric ID requirement has been dropped.

Tanzania: Double deadline for biometric SIM registration and passports

Only 200,000 of 900,000 Tanzanian passport have updated to the new electronic variety, reports The Daily News. Unlike for SIM card registration, this deadline will not be extended, according to the Home Affairs Minister.

Old-style passports will no longer be valid for international travel after 31 January but that registration for updates will be ongoing. The already extended deadline for biometric SIM registration of 20 January is fast approaching.

Percentage-wise, the registration rate has reached over 52% according to The East African.

According to The Citizen, many Tanzanians feel that not enough has been done to speed up ID applications to then allow people to register their SIMS. The paper calculates that a further seven million SIMs have been registered in the past 26 days, making it unlikely that the remaining 20 million SIMs will be registered in the remaining few days.

A report by Comparitech has found that Tanzania’s SIM registration scheme is the worst in the world in terms of subscriber privacy.

For a comprehensive overview of the whole scheme, the Global Voices write up provides details and context.

Ghana: Electoral Commission awards contracts to Persol and MTN

Ghana’s Electoral Commission has awarded a data center construction project to local Persol Systems Limited and a communications contract to South Africa’s MTN network following an international tender, reports the Ghana News Agency.

Preparation for the new Production and Disaster Recovery Datacenter has already begun. MTN will provide networking and internet connectivity for the commission’s district offices. Meanwhile, the debate over whether to introduce an entirely new biometric electoral roll ahead of the November elections has led to public protests.

South Africa: Blue Turtle Technologies becomes Africa resale partner for Daon

Daon’s biometric ID technologies will be more readily available to developers across Africa with a new partnership with Blue Turtle Technologies, “South Africa’s leading enterprise technology management company,” according to the announcement.

Clients will be able to incorporate Daon’s identity assurance services for mobile devices via facial recognition, fingerprints, voice, iris, liveness detection or multi-modal capture. Onboarding and KYC facilities will also be available.

Opinion & Reports

Africa: Brookings Institute on the opportunities for AI, digital ID in Africa

This report by members of the Next Einstein Forum explores the opportunities and impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa. They find that for AI to flourish there, Africa will have to strengthen Pan-African institutions and then “these stakeholders must also invest in creating a digital identity platform for all Africans with reliable data banks for AI to be a viable economic option”.

News in Brief, Updates & Links

In brief – Zimbabwe: The Central African Building Society has incorporated biometrics for its mobile app as part of a major overhaul of its services.

In brief – Côte d’Ivoire: Preparations are underway for mass registration for the new biometric ID card.

In brief – Kenya: The transport minister wants to bring in airport biometrics stating the high take up rate, Kenyan media points out his facts are wrong.

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