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Pakistan ID boss to head UNDP digital transformation committee as World Bank mulls funding

Pakistan ID boss to head UNDP digital transformation committee as World Bank mulls funding

Muhammad Tariq Malik, chairman of Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), has been appointed the chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee for the National Human Development Report 2023, this time on Digital Transformation in Pakistan.

The head of Pakistan’s biometric national ID system will be joined by fellow co-chair of the committee, Knut Otsby, the UNDP Representative in Pakistan. The committee is led by an advisory council of 27 experts from a broad range of fields including technology. The NHDR gathers data, research and policy recommendations and succeeded in the goal of shaping policy decisions in areas such as inequality.

Malik has introduced a great deal of technical innovation in his role at NADRA. Beyond rolling out the biometric ID system, NADRA has recently established patient ID verification for organ transfers, increased biometric data security, unveiled a high-tech central control room to monitor its entire network and is preparing a digital census.

The country’s Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) has become an increasingly vital part of daily life.

Malik is outspoken on Pakistan’s digital development. He wants to tackle the basics, digitally. He believes that a robust foundational ID system based on digital identity, a digital civil registration system and digital census provides the building blocks for development, as he told the UNDP last year. He also called for more skills and reskilling in digital technologies.

The chairman also recognizes the need for broad inclusion in identity, with mobile registration teams deployed and provision for vulnerable groups such as transgender citizens.

World Bank considers $78M project for digital public services

Malik has previously worked on identity projects with both the World Bank and UNDP. ProPakistani reports that the World Bank will consider the US$78 million ‘Pakistan: Digital Economy Enhancement Project’ that seeks a more holistic approach to digital government services for citizens and businesses.

While Pakistan has relatively robust national ID and payment systems (with links to improve service and inclusion), a lack of interoperability frameworks has limited public and private efforts for secure data exchange.

The country lacks certain elements of digital infrastructure and digital government, notes the report, though acknowledges that nearly four million citizens have been a smartphone app called the Pakistan Citizen’s Portal for accessing services or submitting grievances.

A data protection bill is still in draft form and requires more work, finds the World Bank documentation. Together these issues mean a lack of implementation support for digital projects, despite policy instruments at the federal and provincial levels. World Bank analysis therefore finds opportunities are being missed in the country’s digital transformation.

A recent opinion piece in Pakistan Today also covered elements of progress in the digital economy in the country.

Property registrars go biometric in Sindh province

All offices of the Sub-Registrar Property in Sindh province will be equipped with biometric identity verification systems to prevent impersonation in property registration, reports The Express Tribune.

NADRA Technologies Limited (NTL), a subsidiary of NADRA, signed an agreement with the Board of Revenue Sindh in Karachi, the province’s largest city. The system will be linked to the NADRA database and used to check the identity of property buyers and sellers.

The development of such systems was reported on in July 2022, with a similar biometric verification system slated for the Capital Development Authority.

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