The 13 technology applets embedded in the new National e-identity card being issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) will save Nigeria billions of naira on travel passports, ATM cards and others, through the use of a single smart card for multiple purposes.
One of the applets allows the ID card to be used as a travel document, as it conforms to the same standards (ICAO9303 Rev 2) as international passports and national identity cards of other nations which have the Travel Demand Index (TDI) functionality built in.
According to the NIMC, “It is hoped that the document would be used for ECOWAS travel without the need for a passport, as the applets cannot be forged.”
Mastercard is also offering payment functionality as one of the applets on the card, which means that the chip and pin ID card could be used as a substitute for regular pre-paid debit cards as well as ATM cards.
Experts say that apart from the pursuit to warehouse the profile of all Nigerians for effective national planning, which is the main functionality of the E-ID applet, the National Identity Card, which is free for all legal residents of Nigeria to attain, might be of more value to Nigerians, as it serves numerous purposes including financial payments and travel functionalities built in, which conforms to the same rigorous standards as any e-passport (ICAO 9303 part 2).
“Any country that wants to perform adequately must have well harmonised data of its citizens and legal residents. There is hardly any developed country in the world that does not have a national ID card system because it aides development in all sectors of the economy. I wonder why Nigeria is not taking this thing as seriously as it should,” Subomi Sodipo, CEO CFmobile told BusinessDay in a telephone interview.
According to Sodipo, “failure to enroll and issue cards to all Nigerians may lead to lack of growth in the economy, as the main purpose of the National Identity Number is to easily identify people, curb identity theft and ensure that every individual is given their entitlement, based on their genuine identity, apart from its other various functionalities.
The e-ID card shows technology at its peak. With the successful implementation of the national e-id card and harmonisation of data, Nigeria can save so much money on issuance of several other documents that can be considered as duplication of functions,” Sodipo said.
In a tweet on Monday 18, September 2017, the NIMC, through its twiter handle, @nimc_ng said that all data received was being linked and harmonised with the Bank Verification Number (BVN).
“They’re all being linked and harmonised as we tweet. We have your BVN data already. We’re working with NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme) and other stakeholders.”
The Match-on-Card applet of the ID card, where a secure terminal matches a specific fingerprint against that locked away on the card is no different than what is currently done with the international passport. The NIMC states on its website that “the applet will be blocked with too many wrong attempts for security reasons. This way, an agency or concerned body can be sure that the person presenting the card is the true owner.”
The identity card also has the e-PKI applet which contains strong certificates that allow for document signing, non-repudiation, encryption and so on.
As at September 2017, the NIMC announced that it had successfully enrolled 21.36million Nigerians on the scheme which started in 2014.
BusinessDay investigations find that some people who have enrolled for a National Identity card from as far back as 2014 have still not been issued the identity card.
Experts have criticised the tardy process of the National Identity programme, attributing the lack of appropriate planning, policy inconsistency, and waste of resources and poor budget allocation to lack of well harmonised data.
“The absence of unique identity numbers for every citizen in Nigeria may have been a contributory factor to the development of certain services and industries in the country. For instance, the growth of consumer credit may have been stymied by the absence of a unique means of identification of all citizens, which in turn created room for high rate of delinquency of consumers and lenders unwillingness to advance credit to individuals without tangible collateral,” Johnson Chukwu, MD/CEO of Cowry Asset Management Limited told BusinessDay.
Chukwu, who is also a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, said Nigeria lacks a good credit system because of the absence of National Identity numbers.
“At the macro-economic level, consumer credit can be used as a tool for stimulating economic growth. When the monetary authorities lower benchmark rates, consumers are encouraged to borrow and increase their consumption, which engenders increase in demand and consequent increase in production, employment and income.”
“Industries such as vehicle manufacturing, thrive in markets where there is strong demand, which in most cases are dependent on the availability of consumer credit.
It then follows that a country like Nigeria, without a developed consumer credit market, cannot realise its full growth potentials as it lacks one of the tools for economic stimulation. The effectiveness of monetary policies in such economy is highly limited, given the absence of consumer credit which is a critical transmission channel,” he added.
Jumoke Akiyode Lawanson