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Developing digital identification will cost $2.3b, says Aliyu

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has disclosed that developing digital identification in Nigeria is achievable within three to five years and may cost $433m to $2.3b.

This, however, depends on the policy, institutional and operational choices made by the Federal Government, like strengthening the current identification, then scaling up for nationwide rollout.

In an interview with The Guardian in Abuja yesterday, the Director General of the commission, Engr. Aziz Aliyu said digital identity could be transformational for the Country, though it is a substantial undertaking requiring a clear government policy, well-defined roles of government agencies, funding and resources, as well as a viable partnership strategy and an effective public awareness campaign.

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Aliyu noted that poverty in the country is aggravated by a weak standard of living, compounding the urgent need for reliable identification, adding that currently, the coverage of unique official ID to unique people in Nigeria is low.

“At best 38 per cent of people have some form of ID, about nine per cent have the National Identity Number (NIN) offered by NIMC and less than one per cent of people have a national identity card,” he said.

The identity ecosystem of Nigeria, Aliyu disclosed consists of 13 or more government agencies offering ID at the national level and another three to four at the state level.

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He explained that with the fragmented programme, all government agencies collect the same biometric information of people, thereby; duplicating efforts across agencies, which are the reasons why, people in Nigeria carry multiple ID cards without having a robust form of unique ID.

According to the DG, the ongoing harmonisation may help speed up issuance of unique IDs, while posing technical and legal considerations.

“The Federal Government’s ongoing efforts to collect data from people of different ID programmes into the national ID registry of NIMC has the potential to offer speed in issuing unique ID numbers,” he said.

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Aziz AliyuNIMC
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