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Idemia biometrics secures Africa’s largest welfare transfer system as Nigeria unites identity-handling agencies

Idemia biometrics secures Africa’s largest welfare transfer system as Nigeria unites identity-handling agencies

Potentially big developments in biometrics this week in Nigeria as the agency managing Africa’s largest national identity program is moved to sit within the communications ministry. Whether this will mean greater prominence and a reduction in the effects of government siloes remains to be seen. It comes in time for the billions of dollars of World Bank funding arriving to ramp up the country’s digital ID system. In another superlative development, Guinea has now launched what it claims to be Africa’s largest welfare transfer system, operating on biometric verification provided by Idemia.

Nigeria: NIMC transferred to Ministry of Comms & Digital Economy

Nigeria’s ID agency, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is being incorporated into the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, following approval from president Muhammadu Buhari, reports The Guardian.

The minister for the host department, Mallam Isa Ali Pantami, is reported to have said in a statement that the approval stems from Buhari’s recognition of the importance of NIMC in realizing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS).

The report goes on to describe the convergence of identity-handling agencies. The Ministry of Communications statement was signed by its spokesperson Uwa Suleiman who also included that NIMC has registered 41 million people for the National Identity Number and:

“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the other hand has details of over 191 million mobile subscribers. Furthermore, the National Information Technology Development Agency has recorded huge successes in the development and implementation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), the country’s first codified data protection regulation. The Agency has also reached an advanced stage on the implementation of the National Public Key Infrastructure (NPKI). Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) also provides services to Government Agencies – Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service.”

A report by Business Day claims that telcos in Nigeria will be required to capture all ten fingerprints for biometric SIM registration, up from just two, as it is integrated with BVN records.

It is not clear how the NIMC’s funding will be affected or how it will be managed. The move follows a recent report from a select committee on identity issues convened after the US imposed a ban on certain visa types for Nigerian nationals.

Guinea: Idemia involved in creation of Africa’s biggest welfare transfer system

Guinea’s National Agency for Social & Economic Inclusion (ANIES) has launched what is described as the biggest welfare cash transfer program in Africa, as reported by Financial Afrik.

The project is based on biometrics capture of recipients, undertaken by Idemia. Work got underway a year ago when the French firm offered a much cheaper way to register potential recipients.

The scheme covers 240,000 households consisting 1.5 million people, of whom almost a million have been identified as living in extreme poverty.

Payments will be made by the state to people’s mobile phones on the MTN network, with a SIM card provided to each household.

Japan, India, Africa: India and Japan to collaborate to bring digital expertise to developing nations

Japan and India have agreed to cooperate to help developing countries build digital platforms to help governments make their services available online, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

The two Asian nations will collaborate on technology and winning contracts in developing countries, particularly in Africa. India has a proven track record in unified digital platforms, whereas Japan has technology providers, but a fragmented record of its own in government provision.

Reports & Opinion

Nigeria: ID landscape needs more resources, better management

Dr Gbenga Odegbami, co-founder and CEO of private identity management company Youverify, claims that Nigeria’s identity handling agencies are underfunded while identity is of utmost strategic value in the country. Writing for The Guardian, Dr Odegbami states that very little has been achieved so far and that focussing on the BVN means attention is given to those with formal financial arrangements, excluding more than 60% of the population.

The CEO also believes the failure to communicate to citizens the value of ID is problematic, but that NIMC is doing a good job with the limited funding it receives so far (see above). Other problems include government departments operating as siloes and technology ‘appropriateness’. Political change could continue to be an issue as the population is forecast to more than double by 2050.

Malawi: Experiences from establishing a national ID scheme

In an essay for the Center for Global Development, Tariq Malik, outlines the problems faced and achievements made during the UNDP’s project to create a national registry and identity scheme.

Cameroon: The difficulties of obtaining your ID

A person-centered report from the Journal du Cameroun takes the reader on the journey of the difficult task of obtaining one’s identity card. Although it is illegal not to have a national ID card in the central African country, actually getting hold of one is a long-term struggle for many.

News in Brief & Updates

Link – Ghana: Our coverage of the election manifesto promise to move to biometric passports with chips.

In brief – Liberia/USA: Liberian refugees claiming residency in the US are demanding the Liberian government extends the validity of their expiring biometric passports.

In brief – Kenya: An article entitled ‘How to Legally Own a Gun in Kenya’ on the Kenyans.co.ke site details everything someone needs to do to get a licence and all being well, a biometric gun holder card.

Link – Africa: Our coverage of the integration of new biometric fingerprint scanners into Transsion mobile phones, which has the lion’s share of shipments in Africa.

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