Africa Defense Forum
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Nigeria Launches Electronic National ID Cards


Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan formally launched a national electronic identity card in August 2014, which all Nigerians will need by 2019 if they want to vote. Jonathan received the first biometric card, which also can be used to make electronic payments.

“The card is not only a means of certifying your identity, but also a personal database repository and payment card, all in your pocket,” Jonathan said at the launch in Abuja. “I have taken keen interest in this project, primarily because of the pervasive impact it can have on every facet of the socio-economic fabric of our dear nation.”

According to Nigeria’s central bank, about 30 percent of the country’s 167 million residents have access to bank accounts.

MasterCard, which is providing the card’s prepaid payment element, said in a statement that combining an identity card with a payment card for those 16 and older “breaks down one of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion — proof of identity.”

The new cards show a person’s photograph, name, age and unique ID number. Ten fingerprints and an iris are scanned during enrollment. These details are intended to ensure that there are no duplicates on the system.

During the pilot phase, which began registering names in October 2013, 13 million ID cards will be issued. There are enrollment centers in all 36 states, and there is no fee to get the card. People will be charged if it needs to be replaced.

The Nigerian Identity Management Commission, which is behind the rollout, is trying to integrate several government databases, including those for drivers’ licenses, voter registration, health insurance, taxes and pensions.

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