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Ethiopia moves closer to ePassports and digital ID with Toppan agreement

Ethiopia moves closer to ePassports and digital ID with Toppan agreement
 

Ethiopia’s Immigration and Citizenship Services (ICS) department has signed an agreement with Toppan Gravity Ethiopia, a joint venture of Ethiopian Investment Holdings (EIH) and the Japanese ID document printing firm Toppan, to initiate security printing in the country.

Ethiopian Monitor reports on comments from the EIH saying that the expected outcome of the agreement is a new Ethiopian ePassport with “advanced security features and improved efficiency,” which “signifies a remarkable leap forward in the modernization of Ethiopia’s passport system.”

“With the printing plant in Bole-Lemi industrial park, it sets the stage for transformative impacts on travel and security,” the fund says.

Ethiopia’s push for centralized digital ID through its Fayda National ID Program (NIPD) is also ramping up ahead of a 2025 milestone, as a directive licensing some hundred local firms to accelerate local production and distribution of new biometric cards is on the cusp of approval, according to Africa Intelligence.

NIPD collects biometric data from citizens and uses it to generate a unique identifying number with which they can prove their identity using either a Fayda identity card or a mobile phone. As of this month, 3.5 million citizens have registered – a lagging pace, if the government is to meet its goal of 90 million people registered by 2025.

The NIPD plans to download some of the significant cost of the project to citizens, by allowing licensed biometric card manufacturers to charge a fee pre-approved by authorities. The program is presently awaiting the delivery of one million personalized cards from Indian firm Madras Security Printers, which won a tender in August.

As part of its current press, the NIDP has launched a fresh call for tenders for a marketing company to steer its communication strategy and support accelerated public adoption of digital identity. Bids are due by December 18.

The chosen firm will have its work cut out for it. Concerns about privacy, security and the uses of personal data linger, particularly in the wake of an armed ethnic conflict in the country’s Tigray region. However, the government says no information pertaining to ethnicity will be used and promises to strengthen storage infrastructure through an increase in partnerships. ID infrastructure partnerships include a recent tender by the Ethiopian Bankers Association for a contract to supply 6,000 biometric data registration kits to the country’s banks, and an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) aimed at providing refugees and displaced persons with a unique ID number.

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