COVID-19 pandemic threatening Africa’s development ― NIMC DG

The Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Aziz, has said the COVID-19 pandemic is posing a threat to the development of African countries.

He added that the pandemic is currently disrupting all plans and projections, thereby, bringing unexpected troubles to the entire world.

Tribune Online reports that Aziz stated this during the opening of a three-day Africa Tech Leaders Webinar Series on COVID-19 organised by Digital Jewels Limited called on African countries to look inward and be innovative.

He urged the African leaders to take digital identity seriously to navigate the resultant impacts and disruptions, which the COVID-19 pandemic is throwing up.

According to him, the pandemic has presented an opportunity for the Nigerian and African public sector to embrace technology and make swift decisions to effect change to suit the current reality.

Answering a question on the huge disparity, the NIMC boss noted that the public sector has not fully explored and adopted technology, stressing the need for change management to experience huge differences in the private and public sectors in the country.

He said: ”The slow adoption can be attributed to factors such as problem definition, policy formulation, political will, the disparity in remuneration, population size, and too many cooks.”

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He disclosed that the commission is doing to scale up National Identification Number (NIN) enrolment in the country, saying NIMC currently has 42 million unique records in the National Identity Database (NIDB) and has the mandate of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to enrol all Nigerians and foreign legal residents in the next three to five years.

He said this would be achieved through the ecosystem approach, with funding of $433 million from the World Bank, Agence Francaise de Développement (AfD), and the European Union.

On why Bank Verification Number (BVN) and not the National Identification Number (NIN) is used for the administration of the COVID-19 palliatives, he said: “If you’re doing anything about payments you can go through BVN.

“But NIN is the foundational identity. BVN and the NIN follow the same standard. When there’s a pandemic, the government can readily use what’s available.”

The DG also said that there is an ongoing harmonisation of BVN with NIN, out of which about 14 million has been processed, disclosing that the commission is adopting global best practices in data management.

“The NIMC ISO certification in 2014, and recent recertification in 2020 is a confirmation of the commission’s continuous efforts at protecting its data.

“The process of capturing and storing the data is secured and there are data protection guidelines and a data protection Bill in the National Assembly awaiting passage,’’ the DG said.

The webinar series drew high-level participants from the public sector in Africa- Nigeria, Ghana, and Rwanda.

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