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Papua New Guinea could be heading for a country-wide digital identity system ‘by 2025’

Papua New Guinea could be heading for a country-wide digital identity system ‘by 2025’

Papua New Guinea could be heading for a country-wide digital identity system by 2025 according to statements from two of its politicians.

According to a report by the Papuan publication The National, the country’s Security Minister Peter Tsiamalili Jr has claimed that by 2025, all its citizens could be electronically registered.

The minister, who has authority for the country’s National Identification (NID) program, said that the government would be able to register 95 percent of its population of roughly 9.5 million.

Papua New Guinea presents some obvious challenges for running elections, the majority of its population live in economically undeveloped rural areas, frequently at high levels of elevation, which can be hard to reach with conventional transportation.

Tsiamalili Jr claimed his team is “working tirelessly to ensure every citizen has access to necessary tools and resources needed to register for NID,” including the necessary upgrades to the server hardware needed for storage, as well as tools to capture biometric data for facial recognition and eye scans.

In addition, Tsiamalili said his department is collaborating with the local communities involved to make sure that Papuans have the necessary resources to complete the registration.

The news comes after the country’s Prime Minister James Marape recently said that he wants to be able to institute an India-style electronic voting system utilizing biometrics before the country’s upcoming General Election 2027.

During a radio interview reported by Pacific News Service, the leader pointed to how the “common roll itself has a lot of issues” and how the country needs to make a “substantial improvement” in its election processes.”

“Logistics during the election period is an issue as well,” he explained. “The nightmare of counting is where a lot of discrepancies take place.”

The leader pointed towards how India, with its voting population of over 800 million, is able “to vote and get the result out in a day.”

India passed a bill last year to link its digital identity program Aadhaar with voter IDs. The plan has, however, attracted criticism from some quarters, regarding issues such as data privacy.

“We want people to choose their leaders, so we need to tidy up the election system,” said Marape. “There are questions on how we can get this done when we haven’t completed the National Identification programme.

“We can’t trust the electoral roll.”

He said: “Everyone has their own interests. I cannot pass on the same election voting issues to the next prime minister and so we are looking at electronic voting and electronic counting, using electronic IDs.”

Elections in the island nation have frequently attracted serious accusations of manipulation, with research by the Australian National University alleging its 2017 elections involved “money politics.”

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