News Flash: Africa Taps Sophisticated ID Solutions

ID4Africa event highlights how African countries are embracing digital identification

In Africa’s rapidly maturing digital ID market, technology is no longer an issue – it’s political will and gaining the trust of citizens that count. That is one of the conclusions in a report by Biometric Update on the ID4Africa 2019 conference in Johannesburg in June. The report noted that digital identification systems are now sufficiently established across the African continent that vendor lock-in has become a major concern in some countries.

At the event, several African countries presented details of the sophisticated digital ID systems they are developing and deploying. Namibia, for example, has created a central ID registry, which includes biometric data, which feeds many different systems through a security server that applies the rules appropriate to the use case. Namibia’s National Population Registry System includes an automated fingerprint verification service, which can support identity authentication and information sharing.

In an interview with Biometric Update, mobile operator Orange explained how it is using its network of agents to support African governments’ digital ID systems. With a presence in 20 African countries, Orange says its airtime and Orange Money agents can offer governments a range of services, such as capturing biometrics that can be used by citizens to apply for a national ID card or replace one that has been lost. “The ID is for far more than just Orange services,” Frederic Reboulleau, Marketing Enabler Director, told Biometric Update. “We want to develop a platform for e-government, including services such as pre form-filling.”  Orange is already facilitating property tax collection in Cameroon and pre-school fees in Ivory Coast, the report added.

Yiannis Theodorou, Acting Head of the GSMA’s Mobile for Development Digital Identity programme, spoke at the event about leveraging mobile to accelerate digital identity ecosystems in Africa. You can read his article published in The Almanac here.

For more information, please see Biometric Update’s summary report of the ID4Africa event, Namibia’s National Population Registry System and the interview with Orange.