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Biometrics support financial services efficiency in Malawi, Nigeria and Ghana as UNHCR ramps up in Niger

Biometrics support financial services efficiency in Malawi, Nigeria and Ghana as UNHCR ramps up in Niger

The biometrics business continues as normal in parts of Africa. A new ePassport agency opens in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, despite closed borders and social distancing requirements. Idemia appoints a new East Africa sales director, soon after its good news in Kenya. Nigeria connects more bank accounts to national IDs, Malawi strikes off over 4,000 potential ‘ghost pensioners,’ and at the humanitarian end of the spectrum, the UNHCR is continuing its biometric registration work as it faces tens of thousands of refugees arriving in Niger.

Côte d’Ivoire: Snedai opens first digital-only agency for biometric passports

Local identity documentation firm Snedai has opened its fifth agency in Côte d’Ivoire which will be the first in a series of digital-only offices, reports Koaci.

The firm has moved almost all the passport service online from application to appointment booking and payments. Opening during the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the company’s push to go online for convenience by reducing the number of visits necessary to process a passport application. The time spent attending the agency for appointments should be no more than 15 minutes.

As well as passports, Snedai is running the new Ivorian medical coverage scheme which went live in November 2019.

Niger: UNHCR to increase biometric work as thousands of refugees arrive

The UNHCR is to continue its biometric registration of refugees in Niger as numbers sharply increase, according to a briefing by the UN agency. Biometric registration is a key part of the agency’s humanitarian response for monitoring people arriving and allocating resources.

Although the border is technically closed due to COVID-19, over 23,000 Nigerians crossed into Niger in the month of April alone, taking the number of refugees crossing from north-western Nigeria to over 60,000 in recent months. The refugees, mainly women and children from Sokoto state, are fleeing armed attacks, looting and extreme violence in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states.

As of April 30, the UNHCR has also biometrically registered 59,000 Malian refugees at the other side of Niger, who have been entering the country since 2012. The two affected Western regions also report 109,000 internally displaced persons.

Malawi: 4,000 pensioners struck from payroll after not attending ‘pay parade’

4,024 pensioners will be struck from the payroll in June after not joining the government’s biometric vetting exercise, reports The Nyasa Times.

Of the government’s list of 37,984 pensioners, only 33,960 attended the verification activity held by various departments including the National Audit Office, National Registration Bureau (NRB) and Malawi Police Services. Pensioners’ biometrics were checked in the NRB database against their national ID cards.

An online verification is being created for pensioners living abroad and those who may have missed the exercise have another chance to present themselves in June.

Nigeria: 14M bank accounts linked to biometric ID

14 million bank verification numbers (BVNs) have been harmonised with National Identification Numbers (NINs) according to the head of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, reports The Cable.

Efforts such as requiring retirement savings account holders to undergo capture as well as federal attempts to boost NIN take up have contributed to the rising number of bank accounts verified against ID.

BVNs have recently proved important in Nigeria as a way of verifying receivers of COVID-19 related welfare payments. The country hopes to enroll all residents in the next five years, with help from a $433 million program funded by the World Bank, EU and Agence Française de Développement.

East Africa: Idemia appoints new regional head to lead expansion

Idemia appoints Henry Mkusi as East African Region Sales Director as part of plans for regional growth, reports Citizen Digital.

The French firm is making Kenya its regional base by establishing strategic partnerships as authorities in the region look to develop or refresh ID systems. The company hopes to expand into smart city and traffic technologies. Idemia Group CEO Yann Delabrière is quoted as saying, “IDEMIA is committed to investing in East Africa as a long-term partner to governments and local businesses looking to enhance identity security”.

Mkusi started at the firm at the end of 2019 and has over 20 years’ experience in business and ICT, according to the report. His appointment follows the recent announcement that neighboring Kenya has overturned the decision to ban the firm.


ID4Africa: Open source foundational ID as a public good

National foundational ID systems based on components from multiple providers help government projects, agencies and the private sector alike through the “democratization of fundamental services” writes Rahul Parthe, CTO, founder and chairman of Geneva-based biometrics firm Tech5, in the latest ID4Africa article.

Besides the issues of vendor lock-in, Parthe also argues that single-vendor systems rarely had privacy designed into them. “Open-source ID management platforms are designed with inclusion at the center. They not only allow registration and deduplication of citizens using biometrics, but also offer utilization of a unique ID via secure authentication for various services,” writes Parthe, “In this way it is ensured that every member of society is included in a system that enables their participation in social benefit programs and minimizes exclusion.”

News in Brief & Updates

Link – Africa: Our coverage of Yoti’s suspension of its 2020 Digital Identity Fellowship program due to Covid-19 uncertainty.

In brief – Ghana: 912 newly recruited teachers have been issued with identity cards which allow them to complete biometric registration to then receive their salaries. This exercise will be held in the capital Accra, meaning teachers from around the country will have to travel. New public sector staff have been unable register recently due to COVID-19 related shutdowns.

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