Biometrics deployed by Interpol to fight terrorism in Africa’s Sahel region

New identity systems launch for bank loans and strategic industries
Biometrics deployed by Interpol to fight terrorism in Africa’s Sahel region

The breadth of applications of biometrics is evident in this week’s roundup of news in Africa, from counter terrorism activities to cocoa farming to loan recoveries. There is further questioning of digital ID systems, including the systemic bias that can be built in and the tools provided for more efficient discriminatory practices by authorities.

Côte d’Ivoire & Burkina Faso: Interpol uses biometrics in the fight against Sahelian terrorism

Biometric data from terrorist suspects arrested in cross-border operations has been submitted to Interpol databases to help identify links with other terrorist suspects across the Sahel, according to a release on Interpol’s website.

Two recent operations led to the arrests of over forty suspects, including the leader of an attack on soldiers in Côte d’Ivoire, and USB keys and mobile phones were seized in the process.

Interpol has provided training to officers in Abidjan on using biometric data collection equipment and support for analyzing the data on the seized devices. This resulted in adding biometrics from 37 suspects to Interpol’s databases which have now been shared to all 194 member countries.

South Africa: Identity theft and fake health care workers

Yoti’s Digital Identity Fellow in Africa, Tshepo Magoma, is continuing his on-the-ground investigations into digital identity in South Africa. His latest report covers the issues facing victims of identity fraud such as the red tape in addressing fraudulent transactions, and increasing document fraud to supply foreign nationals with ways to access government welfare during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nigeria: Biometric ID for dockworkers ‘by end of year,’ cocoa farmers soon

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) may be issuing biometric ID to dockworkers by the end of the year, reports The Vanguard. This is expected to be separate from the overall ID issued nationally.

Cocoa farmers in Oyo State are also expecting to be issued with biometric ID as part of the authorities’ efforts to increase output.

Niger: Francophone organization to scrutinize electoral roll

The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), a community of French-speaking nations similar to the Commonwealth, is to vet Niger’s biometric electoral roll ahead of this year’s presidential, legislative and municipal elections, reports AFP.

The request for scrutiny came from the current president Mahamadou Issoufou who apparently wants transparency. He is not seeking a third term. The OIF previously checked the roll in 2010 and 2016.

Nigeria: BVN-based non-performing loan policy goes live

As of August 1, banks in Nigeria can debit other bank accounts of an individual defaulting on a loan via the bank verification number (BVN) system, reports Nairametrics in a piece that explains the system.

The mechanism, known at the Global Standing Instruction, will apply to new loans and allows the creditor to be from other accounts linked to the borrower if he or she does not pay off the capital or interest on a loan. Any account not linked to an individual’s BVN will automatically be put on a watch list.

The aim is to reduce the number of non-performing loans in the country. BVNs require biometric registration and are becoming increasingly important.

Opinion & Reports

Bias and racism in digital ID systems

Digitizing previously analogue identity systems can lead to further discrimination and potentially dangerous consequences for minorities, writes Mary Cruse in an article for Good ID summarizing the flaws of digital ID and the technologies behind it.

Ghana: What is the birth certificate for?

If Ghanaians cannot use birth certificates as a form of ID, what are they for, asks Professor Ransford Gyampo, writing in Joy Online.

The government recently stated that only passports and Ghana Cards are valid forms of ID for registering to vote. “Now that it is a law that birth certificates aren’t means of identification, will the National Identification Authority amend its requirements for procuring a Ghana Card by citizens? What happens to the validity of the Ghana Cards and Passports that were procured, using birth certificates as means of identification?” writes Gyampo.

News in Brief & Updates

Update – Ghana: As of July 26, 12.4 million people had registered on the new electoral roll of a target of 15 million, up from 11.6 million just two days earlier.

In brief – Southern Africa: Botswana awarding its e-visa contract to Pangea IT is the latest in a long line of deals with governments across Southern Africa, many of which have proved locally controversial, reports Africa Intelligence.

Link – Kenya: Our coverage of Kenya-based CompuLynx has developed a face recognition and body temperature monitoring solution which works with masked individuals, part of a dramatic spike in the global temperature testing market.

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