Government authorities in Ethiopia are preparing to issue digital, blockchain-based IDs to students at select schools in the country.
The project is the result of a partnership with Input Output HK (IOHK), the company behind the Cardano cryptocurrency. It’s being orchestrated by the education ministry’s department of ICT and digital education, and is part of a larger “digital foundations project” being implemented by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology.
Starting next month, students at about two dozen schools will receive their blockchain ID credentials. By the end of the year, government authorities are aiming to have a million IDs issued. Ultimately, the plan is to provide blockchain IDs to five million students and 750,000 teachers across 3,680 schools.
The digital IDs will be used to track students’ academic performances and to eliminate the possibility of ‘academic dishonesty’. According to a report from Ethipia’s Fortune, the country’s Higher Education Relevance & Quality Authority detected 15,000 fraudulent diplomas and certificates in 2021.
The initiative reflects a broader enthusiasm for digital ID technology in Ethiopia. This past summer, TECH5, a biometric ID specialist, announced the success of a pilot program undertaken as part of the National ID Program of the Ethiopian Government Entity, or NIDP Ethiopia. Government officials used TECH5’s technology to register participants’ face, fingerprint, and iris data, and to issue them digital IDs for use on their mobile devices.
All of these efforts illustrate an appetite for the kind of “Digital Public Infrastructure” to which the Gates Foundation committed $200 million in funding last week. And the student ID project in particular shows that blockchain technology could end up playing an important role in that digital infrastructure.