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Enrolling for NIN, a National Call – Aziz, NIMC Boss

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Engr Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, Director General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC)

Perhaps never before in the history of nations has the issue of identity been as crucial as it is today. From Africa to America, Australia to Asia and Europe, how well or badly each country in each region has fared has depended largely on citizenship identity management. Stressing that Nigeria stands on the threshold of a new epoch in its identity management, ALIYU ABUBAKAR AZIZ, director-general, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), responded to journalists’ questions on the Commission’s current focus aimed at delivering a world-class identity ecosystem for Nigeria:

 

Why is NIMC pushing the National Identification Number now more than the ID card?

Aziz: The focus of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) for the next three to five years is on the National Identification Number and not on the National e-ID Card.

We want to make the NIN understandable, acceptable, applicable and appreciated by Nigerians, as an important and intrinsic aspect of their entire life, rather than a physical card, which can be discarded while the number is for life.

Before now, we were focused on the Card but after the country went into recession, we decided to emulate other developed countries like the United States, which issues the Social Security Number, the United Kingdom, with the National Insurance Number; and India where they recently enrolled about 1.4 billion people, and issued them the Aadhaar.

In all these cases, the emphasis – or perhaps I should say the only thing in focus – is the number.

However, this does not mean that we won’t issue the cards, because it is there in our Act (NIMC Act, 2007) that we should issue a general multipurpose card to all registered Nigerians; therefore, we recently gazetted some regulations that will ensure participation of private partners in the Card personalisation services in order to handle the printing of the outstanding cards; but funding is a challenge.

Also, the intention of the Commission is to develop the identity ecosystem with all data collecting government agencies and licensed private agencies, in order to capture additional 50 million records by the end of 2018.

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What advantages, if any, does having the NIN confer on a citizen?

Aziz: The NIN bequeaths citizens with a lot of privileges and benefits. And like most modern economies where the national identity number is a national token that gives citizens access to government social interventions, the NIN also grants citizens certain rights as regards financial access, credit facilities etc. Mind you, in the case of the US, UK and India I mentioned earlier, like other advanced economies, a citizen can’t access any social services such as health, insurance and so on, without the requisite social security number; the number is indispensable.

So, here in Nigeria, the NIN facilitates interactions between citizens, the Government and private sector institutions thereby promoting socio-economic and political development.

Since citizens enjoy a “one-person-one-identity” for life, the NIN therefore enhances citizens’ participation in the political process, enables citizens to exercise their rights, facilitates management of subsidies and safety net payments, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) management and facilitates service delivery in Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

It also enhances the work of law enforcement agencies, e.g. public safety, policing, national security and border protection, and eliminates ghost and multiple identities, etc.

It also enhances the ability of citizens to assert their identity, have access to credit from financial institutions, protects citizens from identity theft – an antidote to identity theft driven frauds which expands access to other financial services including insurance.

The NIN enhances e-commerce by providing a means of payment as it is a tool for non-repudiation and security for financial transactions. It facilitates financial inclusion, hence the advancement of a cashless economy.

In security circles, the NIN is an important tool for the fight against corruption and terrorism; and finally helps launder Nigeria’s image abroad, amongst many others. So you can see that the NIN is multifaceted in utility.

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What role does the NIN play in Nigeria’s planning and security situation?

Aziz: With the NIN, all citizens enjoy a “one-person-one-identity”, which allows the government to search for an individual and all of his/her details either for planning and or for security purposes.

Government can query the database to ascertain how many unemployed individuals are in the system at Federal and State levels, the genders of those individuals, their occupation, skillset, age bracket, location, etc.

This will assist in planning for resources and benefit administration. As you know President Muhammadu Buhari has just signed the 2018 Appropriation Bill into Law; the NIN is a very useful and powerful instrument in assisting the governments – at all levels – budget appropriately for the citizenry, in the proper and effective allocation and spread of scarce resources.

On security, the relevant government security agencies are part of the National Identity Management System (NIMS) project from inception and have access to query the system using biometrics, etc to confirm individual’s identity.

Therefore, as soon as the National Identity Database is fully populated, all federal, state, and local government agencies as well as the private sectors can access the verification platform of the Commission, for different purposes, depending on the level of access granted to them by NIMC.

 

With the national elections of 2019 almost here, how useful will the NIN be for INEC and the electorate?

Aziz: As I said earlier, we are still harmonising data with all data collecting government agencies, as well as concluding plans to start the ecosystem approach which will see all government agencies and some licensed private sector companies collecting data and sending to the NIMC as the sole repository of biometric data.

This is expected to shoot up the record in the NIMC database by a huge percentage. Once we have a good figure, then INEC can leverage on the NIMC Database for electoral purposes.

The plans already on ground for this year include accelerated deployment of enrolment Centres in all Local Government Areas across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, and enrolment of all Nigerians and legal residents including children.

Perhaps you know that children from birth can now be enrolled; this is a point that Nigerians should be aware of, especially with several babies being born across the country daily.

Parents will do well to avail themselves for the benefit of the new-borns of this window of enrolment opportunity that is now uniquely available.

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What are those social services that the NIN has become mandatory for?

Aziz: Pursuant to section 27 (1) and (2) of the NIMC Act, 2007, transactions including, applications for, and issuance of an International Passport; opening of individual and/or group bank accounts, all consumer credits; purchase of insurance policies; the purchase, transfer and registration of land by any individual; National Health Insurance Scheme, such transactions that have social security implications, registration of voters, payment of taxes, and pensions, etc., will be done with the NIN.

With the recent gazette and publication of the Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number (NIN) Regulations, 2017, the Commission will on a later date, begin enforcement of the NIN for these transactions and more.

Our advice to Nigerians is: do not wait till you have to, go out there and be enrolled before you have to through enforcement, because then you will have to experience crowds and delays.

 

NIMC has enrolled just 30 million Nigerians so far; with a population of 180 million to 198 million, what is NIMC doing to fast track enrolment?

Aziz: We currently have about 30.5 million data in the database with the figures growing daily. The gradual acceptance of the NIN as a means of identification by our partners and stakeholders is also driving up the numbers by the day.

For examples, organisations like the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), etc have all made the NIN a mandatory requirement for service delivery. Others are expected to follow suit.

On our part however, we have commenced aggressive and massive awareness campaign in all the states and the FCT to mobilise people for enrolment.

We are also working closely with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and other media partners with a special target on the grassroots, and it will continue for a long time, particularly with the ecosystem approach being canvassed by the World Bank and its allies.

Also, we have the mobile enrolment equipment which goes to some of the riverine and difficult terrains in the grassroots areas; and a good number will be rolled out by the end of this year.

 

Is there any hope that the entire Nigerian population will be enrolled into the National Database?

Aziz: Yes, of course! However, enrolment of eligible citizens and legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB) is an on-going and continues process.

In other words, there is no limited or specific time frame for all citizens to be enrolled and issued the NIN, because even after enrolling all citizens, there will always be new ones such as new born babies, etc.

According to a recent World Bank report, Nigeria adds seven million into the population every year; that is the size of Rwanda as a country. This means that there will always be enrolment year in, year out. So it is a continuous exercise and the Commission is poised to carry out its mandate to the letter.

NIMC, by design has offices in all the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and maintains active presence with enrolment centres in over 930 locations across these LGAs. More so, we are working to open more enrolment centres and take enrolment closer to the people, especially the grassroots.

 

What are the challenges that could delay the quick enrolment of the remainder of the population which is obviously the greater number?

Aziz: Well, the cynicism from the experience of the past was/and is still a big challenge.

However, we are gradually moving away from that problem as more Nigerians understand the difference between Card issuance and Identity Management.

Secondly, the high cost of opening and managing the Enrolment Centre because of needed stable power supply, active internet connection, low morale on the part of staff because of poor salary structure, the ‘expectation gap’ of “Card” issuance, are other challenges.

However we are slowly moving past these challenges as we ramp up more data into the database.

As citizens, what is the responsibility of Nigerians in ensuring they are enrolled?

Aziz: It is a National call, and all Nigerians are obliged to respond. The government has provided the opportunity, this platform for enrolling into the National Identity Database, to make life better in a modern, well managed and planned manner; the NIN gives the citizens that assurance.

So, if the government has done so much, and all the citizens are required to do is to go out and answer the national call, does anyone have any excuse not to answer the call?

 

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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21m Africans Shopped Online in 2017 – Report

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According to recent figures from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) approximately 21 million shoppers in Africa in 2017 helped drive a market valued at US$5.7 billion in sales.

“Digital entrepreneurship is growing in Africa, but at different speed in different countries. While comprehensive data are lacking on the extent to which African businesses are selling online, anecdotal evidence of more e-commerce activity in the enterprises sector is starting to emerge,” stated the UNCTAD Nairobi Manifesto on the Digital Economy and Inclusive Development in Africa.

“More and more micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) recognise the importance of digitalisation to participate in domestic and international value chains,” the report continued.

Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are said to account for almost half of the e-commerce market in Africa, while Mauritius was highly ranked in the E-commerce Index.

“According to the 2018 version of UNCTAD’s B2C E-commerce Index, the African region lags the rest of the world in terms of e-commerce readiness. Mauritius, ranking 55th globally, is the highest ranked African country, while nine of the ten least prepared countries are in Africa,” the report noted.

Even with this below-par performance, Africa is the highest growing ecommerce market globally accounting for 18% surge since 2014, compared to the world average of 12%.

“Growth in ownership of an account at a financial institution or mobile-money service provider has similarly outpaced the global average, and more Africans are using the Internet than ever before,” UNCTAD said.

“Mobile money continues to rise, and Africa boasts the largest share of adults with mobile money accounts in the world. Although mobile money has centered around Eastern Africa, it is spreading fast also to other parts of the continent,” it added.

According to the last quarterly report from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) for April to June 2018, Kenya recorded over 500 million M-Commerce transactions worth Kshs 1.4 trillion.

The UNCTAD report recommended an extension of mobile and internet access to underserved regions, of government policies to enhance e-commerce and the harmonisation of payment solutions across the board.

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NIGCOMSAT, FUT Minna Sign MoU to Strengthen Technology in Nigeria

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The Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Ltd. and the Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna has entered into collaboration with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the view to strengthening technological innovations in the country by ensuring that all technological products are duly registered in Nigeria and at the international level before it reaches the market following several breakthroughs the country has achieved in technological innovations.

Abimbola Alale, managing director, Chief Executive Officer, NIGCOMSAT Ltd also said the collaboration is aimed at ensuring that the two government agencies reached out to customers with their products.

While welcoming the Vice Chancellor, Professor Bala Abdullahi at the Ground Control Centre in Abuja, Alale, said that all technology innovations should be registered through the relevant regulatory bodies believing that if scientific research and technological products are duly registered, the country can claim ownership of such products and make money from it.

She noted that FUT Minna, has distinguished itself in research innovations having won many grants and recognitions at the global and national levels.

Alale believes that NIGCOMSAT products and services like Staff Attendance And Control System (SAACS), ‘Internet of thing’, Internet Services, e-voting, etc are very much available to impact positively place the country at par with other technology driven economy emphasising that the collaboration will further be opened to the academic community.

In his remark, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Bala Abdullahi expressed happiness on the collaboration between his institution and NIGCOMSAT saying that FUT, Minna is doing its best to improve the quality of education in the country.

The Vice Chancellor also noted that the MoU is an opportunity for the two government agencies to leverage on what they are doing and ‘NIGCOMSAT is the right outlet to market research products’, the VC said.

In his contribution, the Executive Director, Technical Services, Engr. Kolawole Raji expressed optimism on the MoU and urged all parties to fully implement the terms and letters to encourage home grown technology in line with Executive order 003-005.

Also contributing, the Executive Director, Marketing and Business Development, Hon. Samson Osagie, urged the two agencies to be agents of change and commended those who proposed federal universities of technologies all over the country.

One of the highlights of the MoU is the establishment of an African Centre of Excellence mainly with the view for the academic exchange of post graduates.

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Swift, Courteous Delivery Responsible for Konga’s Rise to E-commerce Summit

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Following the unbeatable deals and price slashes it offered during its recent 2018 Black Friday sales tagged Konga Yakata, it has emerged that an amazingly swift and responsive delivery was another factor that set e-commerce giants Konga apart before and after the month-long shopping fiesta and responsible for its rise as Nigeria’s biggest e-commerce outfit.

 

Konga Yakata, which ran from Thursday November 8th through Friday November 30th  2018 online @ Konga.com and offline in Konga stores nationwide, broke all sales projections as the company enjoyed huge hits and footfalls on its composite platforms.

 

Interestingly, a strong point which has made Konga stand out since its acquisition by the Zinox Group and merger with Yudala in May 2018 has been the ease with which it has solved the thorny issue of logistics/delivery which has remained a stumbling block for many players in the sector.

 

Aligned to this is the highly professional and courteous disposition of its well-trained delivery and customer experience team – a factor that has made the company a firm favourite for millions of shoppers in Nigeria.

 

“Before Yakata, I had been impressed with Konga for the speed of delivery. All the items I bought up until that time never exceeded 48 hours before they were delivered,” stated Emmanuel Oki, a small business owner.

 

“During Yakata, Í was even more than impressed as I expected them to encounter some challenges with the increased volume of orders.

 

“Instead, I even enjoyed 24 hours and same day delivery of most of the items I shopped.

 

“Their delivery guys are also very professional,  respectful and smiling all through, even when I was not immediately around to receive my items and kept then waiting for a bit.”

 

According to Stella Dim, an engineer with an oil-servicing company, “Konga has won the hearts of many sceptical shoppers as a result of its integrity, quality-focused approach to e-commerce and professionalism.

 

“Nowhere is this professionalism better demonstrated than in the conduct of their customer-facing staff – the delivery guys, store attendants and customer service team.

 

“Every interaction only goes to reinforce this confidence in the company, especially for many disgruntled shoppers who have had nasty experiences from other companies.

 

“Confidence is very important in an industry such as e-commerce where some unscrupulous players even sell fake items or treat customers shabbily, “ she said.

 

Recently, a number of shoppers had taken to popular microblogging site, Twitter to send positive shout-outs to Konga, commending the company for its quality products, responsive, professional service and swift delivery.

 

According to Michael Adjei, a social media enthusiast, the show of love further goes to justify how well the management of the new Konga has done in capturing the minds of a demanding populace.

 

“Nigerians are very smart, savvy and demanding shoppers who also recognize quality and can go out of their way to pay over the odds to get it.

 

“With the new Konga, we are beginning to see the rise of a truly quality-conscious and professional e-commerce outfit whose management not only understand the business but also care deeply about its customers and do their utmost to please them. We should be proud indeed,” he concluded.

 

 

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