Nigeria’s National ID System Gets Boost from World Bank’s $45.5m Funding

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The World Bank has provided $45.5m to Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission as part of the Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) project.

According to the World Bank’s implementation report, the funds were disbursed in several tranches between December 2021 and April 2024, with disbursement still ongoing.

The Bretton Woods Institute approved $430m for the project in February 2020, with the $45.5 million allocated, accounting for about 10.5 per cent of the total project cost.

The project is co-financed by the World Bank’s International Development Association ($115m), the French Agency for Development ($100m), and the European Investment Bank ($215m).

“This will enable people in Nigeria, especially marginalised groups, to access welfare-enhancing services. The project will also enhance the ID system’s legal and technical safeguards to protect personal data and privacy,” the World Bank said in a statement.

The initiative aims to increase the number of Nigerians enrolled in the National Identification Number system.

Despite the project’s June 1, 2024, deadline to enrol 148 million Nigerians for NIN, the country remains behind schedule.

As of May, the number of NINs had risen to 107.34 million from the 104 million recorded in December 2023, according to NIMC Director General Abisoye Coker-Odusote.

The World Bank has termed the project’s progress as ‘moderately satisfactory,’ with NIMC reporting that 107.3 million NINs had been issued by April this year.

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Akelicious reported that NIMC and IDEMIA Smart Identity, a digital identity company, agreed to renew their long-standing collaboration to upgrade NIMC’s biometrics.

The goal is to enrol 200 million Nigerians in the National Identification Number system by 2025.

“As of today, over 105 million NINs have been issued to Nigerians and legal residents. We want to assure Nigerians that within the next one or two years, we will reach our target of enrolling all Nigerians,” the commission said in a statement.

In 2022, national ID databases in Africa experienced an average daily downtime of 6 per cent, according to Smile Identity’s KYC report.

The digital ID project holds promise, but challenges remain in efficiently managing the data and ensuring the integrity of the identity system to prevent fraud and underage registrations.

On March 16, the media reported that a website known as expressverify was monetising the recovery of NINs and personal information from the Nigerian identification database.

The website reportedly had unrestricted access to NINs and personal details of Nigerians registered in the nation’s identity database managed by NIMC.

The incident prompted the Nigeria Data Protection Commission to heighten scrutiny of NIMC licensees after the website breached data protection protocols.

Last week, NIMC identified fraudulent websites, including idfinder.com.ng, verify.ng, championtech.com.ng, trustyonline.com, and anyverify.com, involved in illegal activities, warning citizens to beware of such sites.

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NIMC reassured the public that robust measures were in place to safeguard the country’s database from cyber threats, adhering to ISO 27001:2013 standards and complying with the Nigerian Data Protection Law.

Experts had urged the commission to take urgent initiatives to curb multiple third-party accesses to its NIN database.

The co-founder and CEO of VerifyMe Nigeria, Esigie Aguele, noted that the issue of access proliferation should be addressed effectively.

“The proliferation is an inherited problem because it happened years ago, and these access points need to be clamped down,” 

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