New Telegraph

NIN: FG targets 65% penetration in months

..achieves 30% in 8 years

The Federal Government is targeting to enroll 65 per cent of Nigerians in the next few months as it raced to meet the 148 million enrollment target set in the World Bank’s Identity for Development (ID4D) project. This would mean issuing NIN to 130 million Nigerians, even as the figure of enrolled Nigerians stood at 63.6 million as of August this year. Under the ID4D project being supervised by the World Bank, Nigeria must have issued NIN to 148 million of its citizens by June 2024. The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, who disclosed the target at a forum organised by the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said the country would be banking on the mobile network operators to achieve this target. The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) licensed the network operators to begin enrolment for NIN in late January this year to decongest the NIMC centres as Nigerians struggled to get enrolled.

This has led to the deployment of over 1,500 NIN enrolment outlets by the MNOs. According to him, the increasing importance of mobile telephony as a driver/enabler for digital identity programmes has been recognised globally. This, he said, is because the MNOs have the ability to reach the vast majority of individuals due to their vast networks/coverage of the landscape.

“In the case of Nigeria, with a subscriber base of approximately 187 million and one of the largest databases holding the digital identity of Nigerians, the telecommunications industry is arguably the most critical stakeholder in the development of a credible national database in the digital economy ecosystem,” he said. While appreciating the role of the telecoms operators in the national identity project, Danbatta said: “It may interest us to note that 37 per cent of NIN enrolments recorded during the eight years since NIN enrolment commenced was accomplished by leveraging the telecommunications industry.” He noted that although NIN penetration currently stood at 29.7 per cent of the population, with the deployment of the Android Enrolment solution by NIMC, “we expect rapid growth of MNO NIN enrolment centres, which will translate to exponential growth in NIN enrolments.

This bodes well for the actualisation of a robust digital identity database and the growth of the digital economy in Nigeria. “Our target is to achieve 65 per cent NIN penetration in the coming months in order to unlock the economic potential of the digital economy,” he said. Disclosing that the NIMC database had hit 63.6 million in August this year, the Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, an engineer, emphasised that the telecom service providers are critical stakeholders in the identity for development project of Nigeria. On efforts to get more Nigerians enrolled, he said NIMC had licensed 203 partners as data capture agents/front end partners, while over 4,768 enrolment centers have been established across the nation. The NIMC DG added that a total of 8,753 enrolment operators have been trained on NIN registration processes, while 35 firms on-boarded on the authentication/ verification platform.

Meanwhile, with the 63.6 million NIN enrollment so far, about 136 million Nigerians are yet to be enrolled, going by the country’s estimated population of 200 million. With this, the telecom operators have appealed to government to extend its October 31 deadline for NIN-SIM linkage. Speaking at the ALTON forum, representative of 9mobile, Ehimare Omoike, said the telcos had done a lot to support the enrollment process, “but infrastructure remains a key enabler in achieving 65 per cent NIN penetration. About 150,000 devices are needed to further deepen the process. This requires having agents and training them.

To train costs about N5,000 per device, so about N1 billion may be needed to get this done.” He called on NIMC to help telcos on Service Level Agreement (SLA) in the management of the identity exercise. On her part, MTN’s representative, Ugonna Nwoye, said NIN penetration was still just about 30 per cent of the population, stressing that NIMC should scale the process, especially to rural areas, which have not seen any significant process. Nwoye, who disclosed that the operators were set to deploy about 80,000 devices for NIN activation in rural and semi-urban places, said the “industry has submitted about 100 million NIN as of August and a larger percentage have not been verified due to backend challenges on the part of NIMC. “Less than six per cent verified, but we hope that the recent funding of NIMC should scale the process.” According to her, the October 31 deadline is not feasible because many people are yet to enroll. Chief Executive Officer of nTel, Omotoba Babatunde, wants faster harmonisation of all the disparate dates, stressing that it is the beauty of a digital economy, which would help prevent corruption, crime and criminality. Omotoba aligned with Nwoye, stressing that so many newly generated NINs are yet to be verified and input on the identity board, “but NIMC has been very cooperative.”

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