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Ethiopia, Malaysia plan for digital identity upgrades to improve access to services

Ethiopia, Malaysia plan for digital identity upgrades to improve access to services

The national biometrics-based digital ID scheme being implemented in Ethiopia will go a long way in expanding access to a wide range of services for Ethiopian citizens, and will hasten the country’s trade relations with other nations of the continent, according to a report by the Ethiopian Herald.

The article quotes the country’s Minister of State for Innovation and Technology (MInT) Huriya Ali as saying recently that consultations on the nature of implementation of the digital ID card project were done with relevant stakeholders.

Highlighting some of the advantages of the national digital ID, Project Manager Yodahe Arayaselassie said it will among other things, allow citizens access to many services expediently and confidentially, enable them to share permanent address information, as well as help boost the country’s economy in the domain of banking, health and education.

The official added that registration for the card will require the collection of iris and fingerprint biometrics of applicants with the goal of making sure that every individual is issued only one ID. The project intends to see the issuance of digital ID cards to about 95 percent of Ethiopians in the next four years, according to MInT officials.

Arayaselassie was also quoted as calling on other African Union members to copy the Ethiopia example and put in place ID systems that can enhance collaboration in terms of access to services and other digital technologies within the framework of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

Also, officials are also looking to build the digital ID scheme on a secure system that can safeguard personal data and the privacy of individuals. In this regard, MInT says it has collaborated with science, technology and innovation offices and agencies of regions and city administrations, and already carried out consultations on a draft personal data protection proclamation, the Herald writes.

The draft regulation, according to MInT, is being prepared in line with objectives of Ethiopia’s five-year digital economy plan, and will set the template for a secure digital ID system without room for abuse of individual rights.

Ethiopia, late last year, concluded a deal to commence the second phase of a project aimed at issuing one million digital ID cards to students and teachers.

MDEC makes digital ID in routes

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) says it is expanding into the country’s digital ID market with a national digital identity and digital signatures project intended to expand access to online services, and build on the gains recorded in its digital ID pursuits.

Per a report by The Sun, the government agency project will also ensure seamless and secure access to online services thanks to MDEC’s trusted digital ID and verification system, in a cost-effective manner.

The article quotes MDEC CEO as saying the move is in line with efforts to adapt to exigencies brought about by the pandemic.

“This necessitates new security measures, including easier authentication processes with new digital ID solutions. The proliferation of fintech also makes the digital ID market ripe for the picking – and Malaysia has local champions well-equipped to start plucking,” said Mahadhir Aziz.

The Sun goes on to mention to some of the “local champions” Aziz is referring to and the strides they are making in Malaysia’s digital ID solutions market, and some of the country’s digital ID prospects in the next five years, singling out biometrics provider Innov8tif.

Malaysia is also working to have new biometrics-based ID cards in place by 2024.

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