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Ethiopia plans upgrades to meet 10M digital IDs target by 2023, draft law approved

Ethiopia plans upgrades to meet 10M digital IDs target by 2023, draft law approved

Ethiopia’s National Identity Program (NIDP) says it is looking forward to upgrading its hardware infrastructure and software licenses to be able to meet its 2022/2023 fiscal year target of issuing more than 10 million digital IDs to citizens.

The NIDP also announced the completion of the use-case pilot phase of the MOSIP-based project which saw the enrollment of more than 100,000 people in a pilot, while efforts are now geared towards scaling up operations.

A draft proclamation on the ID scheme also got government approval last week.

In a recent release, the NIDP said it was extending its partnership with Tech5 whose ABIS solution is being used to de-duplicate entries in the biometric database using fingerprints and iris biometrics, while face biometrics are used for ID authentication and Know Your Customer (KYC) purposes.

NIDP partnered with Tech5 for the deployment of the ABIS solution during the pre-launch phase of the project, which is still ongoing, and both parties agreed to extend the deal for the current financial year after satisfactory results were obtained.

The ID Program thanked Tech5 for its support and expressed the wish to see more vendors with similar services bid in future competitive tenders, as the NIDP continues to explore avenues for possible deployment of other ABIS platforms during the nationwide rollout of the project.

According to NIDP, digital IDs will continue to be issued during this pre-launch phase in selected programs from various sectors including education sector projects such as Student ID and National Exams, social programs such as Productive Safety Net Program, Financial Sector applications in fintechs, credit systems, banking, loans and insurance, for up to 1,000,000 registrants in the coming months.

International procurement consultancy firm EY has also been brought on board to assist the NIDP in fine-tuning its rollout strategies and best practices ahead of the countrywide digital ID issuance phase.

MOSIP compliance

Meanwhile, in a follow-up email exchange, Program Officer at the NIDP, Gelila Bayable, said they were open to new technologies, but which must meet their specification criteria especially in terms of MOSIP compatibility.

“We are always interested in new technologies that meet all of the specifications’ criteria. When it comes to MOSIP compatibility, our platform is based on it, [and] bidders must be compatible,” said Bayable.

About the upgrades, she noted: “Regarding additional software and hardware requirements, our major software update has been ABIS. For infrastructure, we use government cloud and we are in the process of diversifying to multiple sites to ensure service availability, but exploring other local commercial cloud options.”

A few days ago, Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers approved the draft legislation governing the digital ID system, and it will now be sent to Parliament for vetting.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation with 120 million people, spotlighted its digital ID ecosystem gains at the ID4Africa meeting in Morocco recently, saying it intends to issue 75 million digital IDs by 2025.

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