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How Nigeria uses Biometric Enrollment to Combat Security Challenges

by Seamfix

“Imagine me, an old woman having young Nigerian boys sending me messages that they want to marry me, that is just absurd, and I wonder how people fall for these things”

 

You could tell by the expression of disgust on *Mrs. Jane’s face as she shared her ordeal with internet fraudsters. Like her, several others have been conned by unknown people who gained access to them and conned them.

Cybercrime has prevailed for a long time because anyone, anywhere, can sit behind computers and bypass security measures using fake identities that can’t be tracked back to the perpetrator. 

One of the most remarkable examples in recent times is tied to Ramon Abbas (Hushpuppi), a Nigerian popular for his flamboyant social media lifestyle, which directly influenced the rate at which other Nigerians were being prejudiced.  

With other African countries spotlighted for similar condemning records, Nigeria and the rest of Africa have turned to biometric enrollment as a key weapon in Africa’s fightback against cybercrime. 

 

The war against cybercrime

In Nigeria, before the launch of the national identity management program, the country could not boast of a central identity repository to sustain secure and reliable accreditation of each adult citizen.

However, with the efforts of the state’s Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Nigeria has enforced a fully functional database that aims to connect every citizen to a valid means of identification through a unique number called the National Identification Number (NIN).

Now, over eighty million NINs have been issued already, along with the capture of the registrants’ personal information, including their faces and fingerprints. 

Nigeria’s Minister of Communication, Isa Pantami, believes the initiative has been able to reduce the rate of identity theft and other criminal activities, as cybercriminals can now be identified easily through their personal information.

 

Reaching the ‘Inaccessible’ with Mobile Technology

To ensure this initiative fulfils its purpose and citizens in remote locations get to participate actively, NIMC introduced a user-friendly mobile solution to enable citizens to get enrolled through Android devices and thereby bypass logistic challenges. 

Initially, NIMC was constrained by the limitation of its traditional system (direct staff and physical centres) to cover the majority of Nigerians due to its stationary and expensive nature.

This meant limited locations for citizens to visit, causing long wait times and marginalization for citizens unable to be physically present at the enrollment centres.

For a solution, NIMC adopted a public-private partnership with Seamfix to develop the Android enrollment software (AES) that could power biometric registration across the nation and in the diaspora.

This mobile solution enabled access to NIN Enrollment for over 8000 enrollment centres nationwide and in the diaspora.

We achieved a major milestone with the help of Seamfix’ Android Enrollment Solution. Less expensive than other methods, we were able to perfectly enrol millions of citizens across the country in a way we couldn’t possibly achieve previously” –
Lanre Yusuf, Deputy General Manager Software, NIMC, Nigeria. 

AES was also designed to run on existing SIM registration devices currently being used by Telecommunication operators as these operators are key to achieving nationwide enrollment since the NIN is linked to their sim cards.

Having hit the ground running, the NIMC Act now requires every service provider to request and accept the NIN as an identifier or basic identity for all citizens and legal residents before providing them with services and social benefits.

This means any individual enrolled on this database has no cover when any fraudulent activity gets linked to their registered information.

Using the mobile solution, the number of unique identities on the commission’s database increased from 30 million in 2012 to almost 80 million enrolled citizens in less than a year.

Aside from the obvious benefits of building a digital economy, Nigeria is arguably on course to eliminate cybercrime, locally and globally, which is one of the highest priorities of the national identity program.

 

Our Role as a Proactive Brand

‘CiviRegistra’ by Seamfix is proud to have played a major role in this scheme, by providing government agencies around Africa with technological solutions like the Android Enrolment Solution which enabled more than 30 million citizens to be digitally enrolled into the national database through an Android smartphone. 

Globally, Seamfix is on the path to fostering international trust with our identity verification solution, https://Verified.Adfrica, which has helped African businesses verify millions of identities for easy and secure access to their products and services. 

Get in touch today to discuss how we can help you build a central enrollment platform for your agency. 

 

*The asterisked name is fictional; hence has no direct link to any person.