Home Column - Tuesday Why IDs may go Virtual for Nigeria, By Okezue Bell

Why IDs may go Virtual for Nigeria, By Okezue Bell

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As a Nigerian-American boy with a keen interest in education and the intersection of technology and society, I am constantly thinking about the ways in which digital identification can transform the Nigerian economy and impact structures of race, class, and gender in contemporary society.

In Nigeria, a country with a population of over 200 million people, the lack of a reliable and efficient system for identity verification has long been a hindrance to economic development and social progress. For example, without a reliable way to verify identity, it is difficult for individuals to access financial services, such as loans and credit, which can be crucial for starting a business or pursuing higher education. Additionally, the lack of a national identification system has made it challenging for the government to effectively deliver services, such as healthcare and education, to its citizens.

However, the adoption of digital identification technologies has the potential to fundamentally change the landscape of identity verification in Nigeria and drive economic development. With the use of biometric data, such as fingerprints and facial recognition, individuals can easily and securely verify their identity, enabling them to access a range of services that were previously out of reach.

One of the primary benefits of digital identification is that it can provide greater financial inclusion for underserved communities. In Nigeria, many individuals, particularly those living in rural areas or from lower socio-economic backgrounds, lack access to traditional forms of identification, such as passports or driver’s licences. This has often meant that they are unable to access financial services, such as bank accounts or loans, which can be crucial for economic advancement. However, with the use of digital identification technologies, these individuals can easily and securely verify their identity, opening up new opportunities for financial inclusion and economic empowerment.

Furthermore, digital identification can help to reduce corruption and improve the delivery of government services. In Nigeria, corruption is a significant issue, with many individuals seeking to bribe officials in order to obtain important documents, such as birth certificates or ID cards. With the adoption of digital identification technologies, it becomes much more difficult for corrupt individuals to forge or manipulate documents, as the biometric data used for verification is nearly impossible to forge. This can help to improve the overall efficiency and integrity of government services, such as healthcare and education.

In addition to the economic benefits of digital identification, it also has the potential to impact structures of race, class, and gender in contemporary Nigerian society. For example, the lack of reliable identification has often disproportionately impacted marginalised communities, such as women and people of colour. By providing a more secure and efficient system for identity verification, digital identification can help to level the playing field and provide greater opportunities for these groups.

Furthermore, the adoption of digital identification technologies can help to challenge traditional power dynamics and hierarchies, as individuals are no longer reliant on traditional forms of identification, such as family connections or social status. Instead, they can prove their identity and access services on their own merit, potentially leading to greater social mobility and equality.

Overall, the adoption of digital identification technologies has the potential to significantly transform the Nigerian economy and impact structures of race, class, and gender in contemporary society. By providing greater financial inclusion and improving the delivery of government services, digital identification can drive economic development and empower underserved communities. At the same time, it has the potential to challenge traditional power dynamics and promote greater social mobility and equality. As a Nigerian-American boy with a passion for education and technology, I am excited to see the impact that digital identification will have in the years to come.

About the author

Hi, my name is Okezue Bell, and I am a social technologist and activist with interests in computer science, applied math, and bioengineering. I run a social and financial equity startup called Fidutam and am heavily engaged in the sustainability industry. Feel free to comment on this article or message me if you have questions, and leave claps if you enjoyed it! Check out my Wikipedia and follow me on Instagram!

Socials: LinkedIn | Google Profile | Twitter | Website

— Okezue

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