Nigeria reiterates crucial role of biometric national ID, updates SIM registration policy
The National Communications Commission – the federal government agency that regulates Nigeria’s telecommunications industry — has again underlined the importance of the biometrics-backed national identification number (NIN) and urged all citizens and legal residents to procure one as it released an updated policy on SIM registration.
The new policy mandates the creation of a Device Management System (DMS) with records of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), a 15-digit device identifier, to prevent the use of stolen mobile phones. Network operators will be required to check devices against the DMS before activating them.
In a statement accompanying a new policy document, the body said the country’s Revised National Identity Policy, which requires citizens to link their SIM cards to the NIN database, was deemed an important step in ensuring the safety and security of all citizens.
“The National Identity Number (NIN) is the foundational digital ID for the country; both Nigerian citizens and legal residents are expected to obtain the NIN. The Federal Government has taken steps to ensure that the NIN is used as the primary digital identity across the various sectors of the economy,” a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari in the NCC report reads.
The biometric system is expected to improve access to government services, support private sector services and enhance both the country’s national security and digital economic development.
The publishing of the Revised National Identity Policy by the NCC comes just days after Buhari spoke about the importance of the NIN and how crucial it is for the country’s security apparatus and strategic national development planning.
The new policy also indicates that apart from security and development planning, the process to link SIMs to NINs will help increase the National Identity Management Commission’s (NIMC’s) database as the network user database swells.
The policy states that SIM card acquisition and activation should be done based on NIN verification using biometric methods such facial recognition and fingerprints which will be matched against data held by the NIMC.
VP believes NIN vital for financial inclusion
In the same vein, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the NIN has the potential to spur financial inclusion in the country, and can enable even financially excluded citizens to enjoy benefits that come with the digital economy, Nairametrics reports.
Osinbajo made the remark recently while on a visit to the factory of smart cards manufacturing company SecureID Limited. He hailed the strides of the company in contributing to the digital economy space of the country, and reiterated the resolve of President Buhari’s administration to improve the business environment.
“SecureID Limited has proved to us with this state-of-the-art manufacturing plant that local production of smart cards at the highest quality is not only viable in Nigeria but also brings a plethora of opportunities with it for Africa. I must commend this indigenous company for laying the precedent for other local manufacturers to follow. I must also congratulate the founder and CEO, Kofo Akinkugbe, who through her grit and passion to contribute to the growth of the economy, has committed innumerable resources and manpower to bring this factory to fruition,” Nairametrics quoted the VP as saying.
Kofo Akinkugbe, CEO of the Nigerian company that manufactures smart cards and other digital ID documents, said SecureID is proud to help the Nigerian economy in many ways. including the creation of jobs for young Nigerians.
NIMC to use OSIA standards for ID verification
NIMC is also pioneering an Africa-first Mobile Identity Ecosystem by leveraging the OSIA framework to verify NINs by matching them to the national identity registry, according to a statement by the Secure Identity Alliance (SIA).
OSIA is an open standard set of interfaces (APIs) developed to enable seamless connectivity between all components of the identity management ecosystem, and prevent vendor lock-in.
As part of the initiative, the NIMC Mobile ID Ecosystem allows citizen to have their ID verified against the National Identity Registry near-instantly and securely with biometrics via an OSIA interface, the statement adds.
“The OSIA initiative represents a new era of openness and collaboration between industry and governments across the world to resolve the interoperability and data sharing challenges. The Nigeria NIMC pioneering Africa-first Mobile ID Ecosystem implementation proves once again that OSIA has successfully moved from the drawing board to the real world,” Philippe Barreau, Chairman of the Board, Security Identity Alliance, said of the development.
Debora Comparin, Chair of the OSIA Workgroup acknowledged that “…OSIA is an efficient and cost-effective way of leveraging industry expertise while pushing continuous innovation and remaining confident that there will be no need to discard existing legacy ID investments.”