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Back to the ballots for biometrics in Africa: 1M dead on Ghana electoral roll, Zambia rushes biometric verification

Back to the ballots for biometrics in Africa: 1M dead on Ghana electoral roll, Zambia rushes biometric verification

Back to the ballots for biometrics news headlines across Africa this week. In Ghana, parliament has approved a measure that will recognise only the biometric Ghana Card and passport as acceptable ID for voter registration. In Zambia, online voter registration is in the cards. Nigeria looks to Huawei for border management and in Kenya a politician is reprimanded after biometric attendance records showed he had missed too many sittings.

Ghana: 1M dead voters, parliamentary approval of registration

A constitutional instrument to make the Ghana Card and Ghanaian passport the only legal ID credentials acceptable for verifying people in the new round of biometric voter registration has finally come into effect, reports Ghana Web.

The constitutional instrument – C.I. 126 – was approved by a slim majority and has come under criticism for doing away with the birth certificate as a means of identification while bringing in the passport.

The instrument had previously been withdrawn and re-laid twice, reports Business Ghana, and removing the driving licence as a form of ID had also proved controversial.

The chair of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Ben Abdallah, has said that the checks for acquiring a passport are much more rigorous than for a birth certificate, making it more difficult for foreigners to fraudulently acquire.

Those without a Ghana card or passport can still register to vote if two other registered voters vouch for them.

There has also been criticism of Ghana Card issuance. Reports suggest that after someone has gone through biometric capture for card application there is no biometric verification of the person who comes to claim the card.

The chair of the Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa, has said there are more than a million dead people on the electoral roll, reports the Ghana Crusader. She’s reported as saying this could leave space for manipulation and that a new register would be stronger and more credible.

Morocco: New generation of ID cards for government services available to minors

As Morocco’s new biometric ID cards become available, legislation is being updated which will allow 16 year olds to apply, and even children with parental permission, reports Morocco World News.

Children would have to renew their cards at the age of twelve and add their fingerprints. People carrier previous versions of ID are not required to move to the new format, but the biometric cards are intended to create secure access to government services, as enshrined in the new legislation.

Zambia: Electoral registration period halved due to COVID-19

The initial plan for a 60-day window for voter registration in beginning in May has been reduced to 30 days, commencing October 18, reports News Diggers, which reports the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) as saying it faces finance issues due to a reduced generation capacity because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Sixty days would also end too close to the general election slated for August 12 2021, a constitutionally immovable date, according to the chief electoral officer, Patrick Nshindao.

The commission is embarking on an update to the electoral register of around nine million voters, asking them to “present themselves for verification, updates and capture of additional information required including biometric capture which is their fingerprint and a portrait. The voter registration exercise will include online as well as mobile voter registration. We are quite excited about the online registration which will allow citizens to simply go online and register, more details will be communicated to you,” Nshindao is quoted as saying.

Nigeria: Border systems commence, contract for frontier management with Huawei

The Nigeria Immigration Service’s Border Management Strategy is coming into effect as the MIDAS is operating in all the country’s international airports. This announcement was made by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who also discussed how Nigeria’s borders are porous and artificial and stated that the NIS is working with Huawei to develop live border monitoring, reports The Vanguard.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council with President Muhammadu Buhari, Aregbesola said that the NIS has implemented visa-on-arrival, begun online passport applications, registered 146,000 lost and stolen Nigerian passports across security systems and is working on an overarching ICT system.

“Let me be clear and remind us of the fact that our boundaries are artificial,” Aregbesola is quotes as saying, “And those of us who have travelled or are related to communities at the border posts, I know of a particular village in Ogun where the boundary between Nigeria and Benin Republic cuts the palace of the traditional ruler of that town into two.”

Despite the porous nature of Nigeria’s land frontiers, he then goes on to state that a contract has been awarded to Huawei and funding is at an advanced stage for the project to “develop a robust e-land border management system that will deal with close to half of border surveillance which will make possible for us in Abuja to know at the press of a button what is happening in Ileila or any of the borders that will be covered by that system.”

Kenya: Nairobi leader suspended over biometric attendance record

Biometric attendance records led to the four-month suspension of a Member of County Assembly, Nairobi City, Abdi Guyo, reports The Daily Nation. Guyo, the leader of the majority Jubilee party, will also lose all privileges of MCAs during the suspension which was triggered after he missed 11 consecutive sittings.

Rules state that any member who is absent from eight sittings in a session without written permission from the Speaker will be reported. The paper reports Guyo will contest the decision at court.

News in Brief & Updates

In brief – Ghana: A group of lecturers have formed pressure group Concerned University Lecturers Ghana to write to the Electoral Commission warning of decision to create a new register has “poisoned the electoral environment, and has the potential to undermine the credibility of the 2020 elections.”

Link – Africa: Our coverage of the partnership between Microtraction and Smile Identity, which provides biometric verification across Africa for KYC services.

Link – South Africa: Our coverage of South African firm RelyComply choosing ID R&D’s passive facial liveness technology.

In brief – Nigeria: The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate is to pay pensions to the first batch of former workers of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company after a biometric verification exercise.

In brief – Africa: Our coverage of the second webinar in a series from ID4Africa, in which development experts said the importance of effective national ID systems has become painfully clear to policy-makers during the pandemic.

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