For the past couple of months, Ethiopia has been on a journey to provide its citizens with biometric-enabled digital IDs, as this is the foundation upon which all digital services and transactions can take place in a trusted framework. Yodahe Zemichael, the Executive Director of Ethiopia’s National ID Program (NIDP), told Biometrics Update during the ID4Africa Augmented General Meeting in Morocco this month that the country is well on its way to meeting the target of 70 million citizens by 2025.

Following a pilot project and field tests, the venture is now in the use case pilot phase, with a goal of reaching 100,000 people by the end of July. In fact, Yodahe stated that 70,000 IDs have already been distributed, a feat accomplished in just two months. The next goal would be to reach 500,000 citizens in the fourth quarter of 2022, followed by a national roll-out in 2023.

The program, on the other hand, has had its ups and downs. While finance and technology are both constraints, one of the most pressing issues has been community adoption. Many Ethiopians are skeptical of entering their fingerprints and irises for their IDs and either resist or avoid the program entirely. Because they are the primary beneficiaries of the project, communication must be drilled down and customized for different groups of people. Government assistance has also been critical in ensuring the NIDP’s success thus far.

Yodahe went on to discuss the opportunities that could be found for tech providers with specific use cases. Tech providers with specific interests or experience (for example, in the finance sector) can apply to provide NIDP with items needed in that field.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (24 June 2022)


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