Rwanda is set to issue digital identity cards within the next three years to replace the current physical IDs, according to the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire. Residents would be able to store their virtual credentials on their mobile devices under the plan.
The World Bank has already agreed to provide financing for the $40 million, multi-year project. However, disbursement of funds is dependent on the enactment of the draft bill governing population registration in the national digital identity system.
The draft law covers a variety of issues, including enrolment of the population into a single digital identity system, management of a single digital identity system, and registrations of newborns and nationality grantees. The new system is expected to address several problems, including scattered and conflicting data relating to the identification of persons, and the inability to capture, manage and authenticate people’s biometric information.
The digital IDs will collect biometric data for 10 fingers, compared to the current physical IDs that only collect two fingerprints. According to Minister Ingabire, this will facilitate authentication and verification for people seeking services. The bill will also allow newborn babies to receive digital IDs, and biometrics will be collected from children as young as five years, unlike the current requirement of at least 16 years.
Iris scans will also play a role in digital ID registration, and government authorities may determine that other kinds of biometric data should be collected, as well.
“If we look at the biometric data, only fingerprints were collected,” Ingabire said. “Now, in order to ease the process, we will be collecting biometrics in different ways in order to facilitate the authentication and verification for people who want to deliver services.”
MP Aimée Sandrine Uwambaje added that the digital IDs will save residents money they were spending on getting new physical IDs and reduce the frequent issue of physical ID loss. It will also provide a solution to the mistakes made while issuing the current IDs, such as misspelled names, by ensuring accuracy in the digital system.
The World Bank’s support for the proposed digital ID project is in keeping with digital transformation ideas explored by multiple intergovernmental organizations in recent years. In April of 2020, the World Bank hosted a virtual roundtable featuring the World Economic Forum, the GSMA, and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in which the organizations emphasized the potential of digital infrastructure in responding effectively to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Source: The New Times