Belize to kick off national ID and biometric data strategy as soon as March
Belize is moving towards building its national identification system and formulating a strategy for biometric data with future plans for digitizing public services.
The Central American country is currently working on a draft of the National Biometric Strategy and Action Plan, targeting to reach an agreement among stakeholders by March 2024. Upon agreement, the final report will be submitted and an action plan will be formulated, according to Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of E-Governance Jose Urbina.
“The ultimate objective is really to have a national ID in the country with all the safeguards and features that entails in capturing biometric data, “Urbina told local media outlet Love.fm.
Belize won’t be starting from scratch. Public service entities have already acquired some biometric data from its population of 400,000. The government is working with stakeholders such as the Social Security Board to ensure they will be able to use their infrastructure to capture more biometric data, says Urbina.
However, many questions are still unanswered, including how to share existing biometric data within the sector and whether to choose a distributed architecture versus a centralized architecture for its database. Even though both the public and private sectors have been capturing biometrics, the country has yet to define policies for data protection. More importantly, the project has still not secured funding.
Urbina added that while the ministry still doesn’t have an exact figure for the funding necessary to complete the project, the government is engaging international financial institutions and partners within United Nations entities.
“We need to look at the budget that is required and also link, as I mentioned before, with the national ID and how we roll out the national ID, says Urbina. “Now I can say that National ID is a bigger project that is fundamental towards digitizing of services within countries.”
In May 2023, Belize became one of eleven Caribbean countries to sign the “Port of Spain Commitment on Digital Transformation”. The agreement is designed to help countries set up cross-border recognition of digital IDs and address data privacy protection.