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Biometric verification reveals 10K ghost workers on Zimbabwe public payroll

New solution for remote identity verification launched in Nigeria

Biometrics and digital ID

The use of biometrics to identify ‘ghosts’ receiving fraudulent payments in Africa continues, with Zimbabwe excising at least 10,000 ghost workers from the public payroll and a program launched in Nigeria to enable pensioners to verify their eligibility for social assistance remotely with biometrics.

Zimbabwe’s Public Service Commission (PSC) says a World Bank-assisted exercise to bring order to the civil service payroll was successful, Zimbabwe’s The Herald reports. Moses Mhike, PSC head of human capital development and management, said the operation is ongoing.

“We conducted a biometric exercise to get the data of all civil servants and comparing with the Registrar’s office,” Mhike stated during a workshop for the PSC and multiple other government bodies. “We realised that about 10 000 were not biometric compliant and traced them at each and every work station.”

The civil service reforms being carried out by Zimbabwe also include a pension overhaul and investments in transportation for government workers.

Remote biometric verification solution launched in Nigeria

In Nigeria, meanwhile, Vanguard writes that the University of Lagos (Unilag) is collaborating with Avas Technologies Ltd. to launch a device which collects voice and fingerprint biometrics that could be used by pensioners and others.

The device could also be used for personnel management, healthcare, and education applications, according to the report.

“This design and innovation is truly an amazing solution that will solve some of the problems that we have around us here in Nigeria and that need local input,” comments Avas Technologies CEO Faheed Olajide. “One of the major problems that really spurred this innovation, which is the Pensioners and Personnel Management Solution, is that of ‘I am alive.’ These pensioners can now stay in the comfort of their homes and get verified, using this technology.”

The solution can eliminate the need for pensioners to appear in person to validate their liveness.

Olajide says the solution was developed in consultation with industry and academia, and has been granted a patent in Nigeria.

The system could also enable trustworthy online examinations, he says.

“Any attempt at impersonation will have such person automatically shut out. We want to be sure that any time any one wants to do an online examination, which is basically computer based, it should be the right person sitting for the examination,” Olajide states. ”Our system flags and sends alert, either by SMS or email, to the administrators anytime foul play is discovered.”

Unilag developed the intellectual property behind the new solution, according to Olajide, and the University credits the government with helping through the contribution of N8 billion (roughly US$21 million) in grants.

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