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Biometrics and digital ID across Africa this week: registration for Nigeria SIMs, Zimbabwe public sector

Biometrics and digital ID across Africa this week: registration for Nigeria SIMs, Zimbabwe public sector

After much criticism of Kenya’s Huduma Namba scheme, this week there is a call for further use of biometrics to curb hospital fraud. Nigeria could be considering SIM registration in coming months and Zimbabwe looks to add biometric shift attendance monitoring for medical staff as the whole civil service approaches the February 28 deadline for biometric capture.

Another date is now fast approaching: ID4Africa 2020 to be held in Marrakech 2-4 June. Registration is now open and the lineup has been announced with African identity issues covered including data governance and system interoperability.

Nigeria: Possible new requirements for SIM registration

The Nigerian Communications Commission has been called upon to revise the country’s policies on SIM registration in a move which could require all subscribers to have a National Identity Number (NIN) and a maximum of three SIMs, reports Developing Telecoms.

It is understood that the requirements could include the need for an NIN for registering all new SIM cards and that existing subscriptions have an NIN registered by the end of the year. No unregistered SIMs would be allowed on any network, SIMs involved in crimes could be deactivated and a maximum of three subscriptions could be registered against any one ID.

Ostensibly a method to tackle crime, the proposals would also prove an effective form of encouragement to people to sign up for a National Identity Number, as take up has proved slow. The policies, if passed, would doubtless prove controversial as it is typical to have multiple SIMs and phones operating in Nigeria and the region.

Zimbabwe: Biometric attendance requested for healthcare workers, deadline for all civil servants

Zimbabwe’s minister for health, Obadiah Moyo, has called for the biometric registration of shift attendance by doctors at all public hospitals following the ending of a four-month strike, reports Bulawayo 24.

Minister Moyo told a parliamentary committee that biometric attendance monitoring would be the only way to ensure attendance after the government fired 435 junior medical officers over strike action. Attendance records would determine pay.

Doctors associations have criticized the move as attendance had been affected by industrial action. As Zimbabwe’s economy nears collapse, inflation has eroded doctor pay meaning some cannot even afford to travel to their workplaces.

All of Zimbabwe’s civil servants have until the end of February to register their biometrics or face being going unpaid. The initial registration exercise ran in August and September 2019 with the deadline extended to October 31 and then again to February 28 2020. The scheme is intended to weed out ghost workers.

“All members who remained non-compliant as at 28 February 2020 will be struck off the payroll,” Labour permanent secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe said in a statement, reports News Day.

Kenya: Calls for National Health Insurance Fund to implement biometrics to combat fraud

Kenya‘s National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has been asked to digitalize its systems and introduce biometric checks to cut down on fraud, particularly by private hospitals, reports the Kenya News Agency.

The call was made my Murang’a County women’s representative and parliamentary health committee chairperson Sabina Chege, who stated that hospitals create loopholes to make claims from the NHIF and that her parliamentary committee will push for changes at the NHIF.

DRC: Young engineer develops fingerprint ignition for motorbikes

Something a little different from the DRC. While smart cars are acquiring ever more security and remote functionality, Ferawi Mabla realized that it’s motorbikes where he lives that require the security and has developed a fingerprint ignition system. He’s added a black box system too for tracking. See it in action on Afrik.com.


Kenya: Huduma Namba and the dangers of a joined-up system

When citizens’ data from all the services they use is kept together in a central database it is far more vulnerable to hacking than data siloes or a requirement for a physical interaction, argues Demas Kiprono in an OpEd for The Standard. Following the High Court’s decision to suspend the digital ID project, Kiprono highlights the low level of understanding among Kenyans of the dangers they face by joining the scheme.

News in Brief & Updates

In brief – The Gambia: Semlex’s operations were briefly suspended by The Gambia Revenue Authority of tax issues. Semlex confirmed with Biometric Update that this was a lack of communication between the GRA and the Ministry of the Interior over Semlex’s status in the country. The issue was resolved the same day and document production resumed the following day. This development follows the recent launch of The Gambia’s new ID scheme on January 6, with documents issued by Semlex after a 2018 deal.

In brief – Togo: President Faure Gnassingbé announced that parents can now get birth certificates for their children easily and that starting this year all Togolese will be able to get an ID number. The plan is for all to have a biometric ID number within six years.

Update – Tanzania: Vodacom predicts profit drop after biometric SIM card requirements came into effect. 5 million of its 15.6-million customer base was unregistered, of which 1.7 million have already been blocked.

In brief – Togo/Ghana: The ECOWAS commission and IOM begin an awareness-raising campaign about the biometric ECOWAS card along the Ghana-Togo border as the free movement of goods enshrined in ECOWAS is not being observed across the frontier.

Link – Africa: Our coverage of the OSIA Advisory Committee setting standards for open biometric systems.

In brief – South Africa: Contract research organization Synteract expands in Africa by buying biometrics business Clindata, gaining access to its operations in Bloemfontein as well as Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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