By Emmanuel Iruobe
VENTURES AFRICA – The World Bank’s department for Digital Identification for national development has sent a delegation to Nigeria to assess the ongoing projects aimed at solving the country’s longstanding identification issues. This suggests that the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is making commendable progress in attracting the right kind of support.
Within a two-week timeframe, the delegation would be expected to benchmark Nigeria’s digital identity scheme with practices developed by the World Bank. It will also critically review the interaction between all components of the identity ecosystem including the National Pension Commission, National Health Insurance Commission, Federal Road Safety Commission, Central Bank’s Bank Verification Number scheme (BVN) and others. These components are yet to be fully integrated into the NIMC scheme.
The delegation is also expected to determine how much gains Nigeria could record if it was provided with multi-level support, which may include technical, financial, and regulatory and policy support.
Local media reports suggest that this development is a result of the positive international reviews the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) project has been receiving in the last two years after launching the National Electronic Identification initiative, which it has done in partnership with money card firm MasterCard.
No formal commitments have been announced yet, but it is widely believed that the World Bank sees the Identity Commission as being “very much on the right path,” hence its recent visit.
“The World Bank team is impressed with our work,” remarked Mr. Chuks Onyepunuka, General Manager for Information Technology and Identity Database. “It is as if we had a copy of their tool kit all along, but as you may well know, crossing the ‘i’ and dotting the ‘t’ here and there can be time consuming especially when funding constraints play a strong role, we shall see how this intervention can help to fast-track things. The fact that they are here, impressed and are sounding positive is a welcomed relief from all the hues and cries as if we are doing nothing, even when the cards are being issued.”
The broad benefits of a comprehensive nationwide identity management system hovers around combatting fraudulent practices, optimizing national resources through efficient sector allocation, driving economic development and pro-poor programmes and fostering inclusivity in rural areas previously disconnected from fabric of society.
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