What is the Digital Identity Ecosystem?
The Digital Identity Ecosystem is a framework involving the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) working with public and private service providing partners to create an enabling environment for the effective and efficient mass enrolment of Nigerians and legal residents in Nigeria into a centralized, secure National Identity Database where digital identities are issued to everyone in the form of the National Identification Number (NIN). The initiative aims to improve identity authentication of citizens and make all identity-related transactions safe within and outside the country.
The Ecosystem will be funded by the World Bank, European Union (EU) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD), a French developmental agency.
How the Digital Identity Ecosystem Works
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) will be partnering with other public and private sector service providers including federal, state and local Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Civil Society Organizations and others as well as qualified private vendors for the provision of data collection services and issuance of the National Identification Number (NIN) under the National Identity Management System (NIMS) programme.
NIMC plays its main role as the custodian of the central National Identity Database and regulates all national identity matters, while citizens and legals residents now receive a broader range of enrolment and NIN collection choices via NIMC’s partner MDAs and licensed private vendors.
One can, for instance, enrol for the NIN while one is applying for a driver’s license or international passport.
Others might decide to use the offices and resources of private vendors for their enrolment and NIN collection instead.
NIMC’s enrolment centres nationwide will also continue providing enrolment and NIN issuance services.
Under the Identity Ecosystem, the two subdivisions of the framework are
- core services and/or products related to foundational identification which consists of all the relevant data collected from individuals (biometrics, demographics, etc.) – handled by NIMC and the National Population Commission (NPopC) partnering together
- services and/or products related to functional identification involving data extracted for specific identification use (for example biometric data verification alone for financial transactions) – handled by other government MDAs and licensed private vendors
A foundational identification helps explain “who you are.”
A functional identification helps explain “whether you are eligible for a specific benefit.”
In nature, ecosystems are made up of a combination of environments and organisms living within them, competing and interacting under a set of governing environmental rules, for instance, the earth and lakes or rivers provide the basic resources which plants and animals share and compete over controlled by climatic conditions.
Likewise for the Digital Identity Ecosystem, NIMC and NPopC provide the foundational identification layer consisting of data on the central identity database which other authorised public and private entities tap into for their various functional needs. Immigrations and security agencies can tap into the foundational identification database and extract only the data they are authorised (by the rules of the Ecosystem) to access and supplement the data they already possess when identifying individuals.
On the other hand, access to data identifying an individual’s citizenship may be all that is needed from the foundational identification database by functional identification service providers for issues related to voting during elections, pension payments, travel documents, and so on.
The functional identification players in the ecosystem in the process of carrying out their activities also help to gather data through enrolment of individuals they come into contact with and pass this captured enrolment data back to NIMC, populating central foundational identification database.
Two government agencies are involved in Nigeria for foundational identification.
- Nigeria Identity Management Commission (NIMC): the custodian of the centralized National Identity Management System and database as recognised by Nigerian law
- Nigeria Population Commission (NPopC): the lead agency charged, by law, with registering births and deaths in Nigeria
Several government agencies are involved in Nigeria for functional identification.
- Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN): operates a registry of people who use banking services
- Independent National Election Commission (INEC): operates a registry of people who are eligible to vote
- National Communications Commission (NCC): operates a registry of mobile phone users
- National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS): operates a registry of people who subscribe to health insurance
- Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS): operates a registry of people for taxation
- Joint Tax Board (Customs): operates a registry of people for excise and custom duties
- National Pensions Commission (PENCOM): operates a registry of people entitled to pension by the FGN
- National Social Safety Net Project (NASSP): operates a registry of poor and vulnerable people in Nigeria
- Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD): operates a registry of farmers entitled to agriculture benefits from the FGN
Security agencies: Security agencies rely on identification to carry out security services in Nigeria
- Ministry of Defense (MoD): responsible for national security of Nigeria
- National Immigration Service (NIS): operates a registry of people with a valid passport or travel document
- Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC): operates a registry of drivers
- Nigeria Prison Service (NPS): operates a registry of prisoners, both past and present
- Nigeria Police Force (NPF): operates a registry of people in conflict with the law
State agencies: Government agencies at the State level, and within Local Government Agency (LGA) and wards, rely on identification to offer services to people and to carry out State-level government functions.
Private sector: Firms in the private sector rely on ID to offer services to consumers.
- Financial institutions
- Telecommunications service providers
- Healthcare service providers (including health insurance companies)
Regional bodies: Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is promoting the regional use of identification for greater regional integration in West Africa.
How Private Vendors Get Paid
Enrolment of individuals remains free. However, licensed private vendors using their own resources to carry out enrolment and NIN issuance services, would be remunerated on a pay-per-play basis. That is, they get paid for each successful enrolment of a person, complete with the issuance of a valid unique National Identification Number (NIN).