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Nigeria reaches 90M digital ID registrations as database capacity issue looms

Nigeria reaches 90M digital ID registrations as database capacity issue looms

Nigeria officials say they have so far been able to register the biometrics of almost 90 million citizens for National Identification Numbers despite many bottlenecks. The success means that a capacity crunch could be ahead, however.

Speaking during a September 16 ceremony to mark International Identity Day, the African nation’s communication and digital economy minister, Ali Isa Pantami, said progress was made by effectively enforcing the law, reports The Cable.

Pantami explained that before the National Identity Management Commission was nested within his ministry a few years ago, about 40 million persons had been enrolled for a national ID number.

President Muhammadu Buhari supported improving working conditions for commission staff and having a fully digital Nigeria pushed the goal forward, Pantami added.

“While we celebrate the achievements that Nigeria has recorded in the digital space and especially in digital identification, in the last few years under President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, we are, however, mindful of the gaps remaining to be filled for us to ensure that every citizen of Nigeria and every legal resident in our country is enrolled,” The Cable quoted Pantami saying.

The success notwithstanding, the minister said more efforts are required from different stakeholders, such as opinion leaders and civil society groups, to encourage rural and urban enrollment.

Commission Director General Aliyu Aziz, who also spoke during the ceremony, praised the government for upgrading the capabilities of the institution. Its staff strength has increased, so have enrollment centers, he said.

Commission partnership to expand registration

Addressing reporters a day earlier, Aziz said the commission is building partnerships with some traditional institutions in order to increase the number of persons enrolling for the ID number.

“The 89 million are the mainstream people. There are all the local people in the market, villages, nooks and crannies that have not been enrolled. So, we are partnering with the traditional institutions. We will be partnering with them throughout the year so that we can go to the nooks and crannies to enroll more people,” said Aziz as quoted by Punch.

He also talked about their plans for increasing the capacity of the commission database, which is said to be 89 percent full.

In May, Punch reported that the commission had raised concerns about limitations in its database capacity, saying it could only hold the biometric data of 100 million citizens.

Aziz said at the time that the federal government had authorized raising the capacity to 250 million, although funding is yet to be made available.

“We are trying to upgrade the system. We have gotten the government’s approval since July last year. We are following up to get the funding. Funding is a challenge, but I don’t want to call it a challenge because it is a challenge for everyone,” said Aziz then as quoted by Punch.

Nigeria says it plans to enroll 148 million citizens for the digital ID by 2024.

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