Nume Ekeghe with agency report
As part of efforts to boost financial inclusion in the country, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has disclosed plan to issue identity numbers to 70 million Nigerians by the end of next year.
The country which currently holds centralised data for less than 15 per cent of its almost 200 million population, would integrate various identity-capturing and verification systems run by other government departments, banks and mobile-phone companies, the Director General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, was quoted to have told Bloomberg in an interview.
â€œWe currently have silos of identity with several agencies. The NIMC will play the role of the harmonizer and coordinator of the back-end database, while allowing all the other agencies to have touch points and areas of interaction with the citizens,â€ Aziz said.
Concerned that large segments of its population remained outside of the banking and payments system, the federal government had formed a partnership with Mastercard Inc. to issue identity cards embedded with their payment chips in 2015. There are plans to expand the collaboration by including other payments companies, with the ultimate target of covering all citizens, he said.
In addition to the facilitation of payments, the identity numbers and the accompanying cards will be used for tax and health insurance administration, voter verification and help keep track of population changes, Aziz said.
Lagos-based Interswitch Limited, which issues Verve debit and credit cards, is at an advanced stage of linking its payments with the national identity database, while United Bank for Africa Plc is working on a pilot, according to Aziz. Citizens will be able to make their choice of payment companies during enrolment.
Nigeria is still a long way from covering most of the population and is concentrating on integrating existing data, Aziz said.
â€œIn the next two or three years we should be able to capture all the data from both the public and private sector,â€ he added.