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Nigeria’s NIMC boss commends digital ID enrollments milestone as capacity increases

Nigeria’s NIMC boss commends digital ID enrollments milestone as capacity increases

The head of Nigeria’s digital ID issuing agency praises the “unified ID approach” and ecosystem model adopted, calling it a success story after the country passed the 90 million enrollments mark. The president recently mentioned 92 million and the agency’s director of Corporate Services has gone as far as 93.5 million.

Director General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Aliyu Aziz, delivered the updates while speaking in Abuja during a meeting with representatives of the digital ID ecosystem implementing partners, reports Vanguard.

Aziz said having reached a total 90 million persons enrolled for a national identification number (NIN) in 2022, up from only seven million in 2015 when he took office, is nothing short of a feat. He added that the approach has enabled Nigeria to set up a robust digital infrastructure which is useful for the country’s strategic development.

Ninety million corresponds to around 40 percent of the total population, but a much higher percentage of adults in the very young country.

To accelerate adoption of the ID, however, Aziz called for more collaboration and long-term planning in order for the country to make the most of the advantages that come with a unified ID system.

During the same meeting, the Project Coordinator of the Nigeria Digital Identity for Development (Nigeria ID4D) initiative, Musa Solomon Odole, reiterated the body’s commitment to ensure that the digital ID project maintains an inclusive track.

He also spoke of World Bank help via Nigeria ID4D support in digitizing the country’s civil status registration system run by the National Population Commission.

“The aim of the project is to strengthen the foundational ID system, and in the process, improve national data protection, bolster Nigeria’s digital economy and close the inclusion gaps in access to identification and related key services, while fostering inclusion for marginalized groups, such as persons living with disability, the rural poor,” said Odole as quoted by Vanguard.

In a development that may presage more collaboration, 50 public institutions pledged their support for the Nigeria ID4D project, reports Vanguard in a further article. Each one now has a desk officer dedicated to coordinating with the project. At the desk officers’ meeting, an increase of server capacity was announced, from 100 to 250 million capacity. The capacity of the biometric database was identified as a potential hurdle when Nigeria hit 90 million registrations in September.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari also recently praised the strides made by the country in driving the digital economy as well as the gains this has brought for the federal government.

Speaking during a ceremony to launch the National Shared Service Center, a one-stop-shop for public institutions to interact with citizens, Buhari also mentioned the increase in digital ID enrollments from 39 million in October 2020 to about 92 million in 2022.

“The massive increase of about 63 million in about two years is a global success story and has led to several requests for partnership from countries within and outside Africa. I also approved the establishment of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau on the 4th of February 2022 to provide an institutional framework for data protection in Nigeria, in line with global best practices,” This Day quoted the President as saying.

Moving towards sustainable funding

Buhari also revealed that Nigeria’s government has raised $547 million in a 5G spectrum auction. The auction’s success shows both the demand within Nigeria’s digital economy, as well as a way to fund further advances in the country’s digital ID and related public infrastructure.

In a related development, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Isa Ali Pantami recently held talks with Space X and World Bank officials in the United States on the sidelines of the US-Africa summit, with their talks focusing on how Nigeria’s digital economy efforts can be strengthened.

A statement from the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) quoted by Blue Print mentions that the meeting with top World Bank officials including Vyjayanti Desai, practice manager for the bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) and Digitizing Government to Person Payments (G2Px) Programs, discussed how the Bretton Woods institution “can further partner with Nigeria to strengthen the digital economy ecosystem in areas such as infrastructure, skilling, cybersecurity, and digital identity.”

The statement adds that the minister also met a Google official who praised Nigeria for its digital transformation efforts.

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