ID4Africa 2018 Speech by President Muhammad Buhari

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It is with great delight that I welcome you all to the Fourth (4th) Annual Government Forum on Electronic Identity in Africa tagged ID4-Africa 2018. I am particularly happy that International delegates, major arms of Government, the private sector, diplomats, and other development agencies are participating.

2. The importance of this Summit in optimizing the benefits of digital identity and leveraging its use for accelerating development prompted Nigeria’s decision to host it.

3. The theme of the summit “Harmonization of Identity Schemes” is of utmost importance to Nigeria. Identity forms the nucleus of our daily activities, cutting across several sectors of the economy. As a responsible Government, we are extremely aware of the importance of gravitating towards e-Governance.

4. The International community, especially the developed countries have adopted identity as a tool for transformation of governance and service delivery in areas such as: transportation, financial inclusion, immigration, healthcare, social safety nets, agriculture, security and so on.

5. According to the World Bank Group 2017 report, with increased access to identification, over 38 million Africans could open their first bank accounts upon receiving proper documentation. A total value of $800 million in social safety net programs will benefit the citizenry from improved targeting and management. 4.4 million refugees and stateless persons in Sub Saharan Africa could also have access to better protection and humanitarian assistance. [ VIEW REPORT >> ]

6. Digital identity can transform the efficiency of safety nets with electronic cash transfers; track immunization of children and delivery of health care to citizens; issue driver’s licenses linked to a digital identity registry and track border control and issue passports linked to a digital identity registry.

7. The inclusion of the provision of legal identity for all as a Sustainable Development Goal also reflects its importance as a global development issue.

8. The Federal Government of Nigeria has long recognized the need to have a single national identity system for all citizens in order to carry out its mandate in social and economic development, law enforcement, intelligence and political development.

9. In 2017, the Federal Government of Nigeria issued the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as its overall strategy to drive the country’s economic development. As part of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the Government plans to deliver key services, including safety nets, agriculture development, food security, energy, transport and enterprise development, while strengthening the macro fiscal environment, investing in people, and developing a local digital economy.

10. Through the process of Harmonization of Identity Schemes, in Nigeria, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) grew the database from seven (7) million to fourteen (14) million by 2016 and from fourteen (14) million to twenty eight (28) million in 2017. Our target is to grow the database to Fifty (50) Million by December 2018 and subsequently Seventy (70) Million by December 2019.

11. In this regard, Nigeria is convinced that for businesses and innovation to thrive in Africa, a digital strategy to develop global reputation for technological leadership and business dynamism is essential. This entails building digital ecosystems; Investing in smart infrastructure, platforms, and services; Identifying and nurturing digital talents; digitizing our records and classifying them accordingly; as well as reviewing and upgrading the legal and regulatory framework.

12. A robust Identity Management System with quality data is key for every emerging economy. Nigeria, and by extension Africa, must leverage on its digital identity as a reliable tool for socio economic development.

13. The importance of the confidentiality of data inherent in the identity management system cannot be over – emphasized. We must therefore ensure absolute integrity and security of this information. As a nation of over 180 million people, it is important that we develop an integrated and connected system to ascertain that an individual is truly who he claims to be.

14. Ladies and Gentlemen, Africa needs to embrace the global drive towards optimization in the use of resources by making its Digital Identity Infrastructure efficient thereby creating an enabling environment for talented African youths to tap into these technologies. Indeed, with the advent of disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Block-chain, now is the time to build an ecosystem that will enhance continent-wide security, minimize fraud and wasteful expenditure.

15. I am aware also that a lot of work is being done in this regard by all the stakeholders represented here. However, it is my desire and my charge to you that the National Identification Number (NIN) be used to enhance the democratic process in Africa in the immediate future.

16. I wish to commend the ID4Africa Forum for its concern and interest in the development of a robust identity management system in Africa.

17. With the calibre of participants here, I am convinced that there will be robust discussions on identity schemes, and action plans to address challenges of harmonization in our respective homelands will emerge.

18. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is my singular honor and pleasure to declare the 2018 ID4Africa Summit open.

19. I thank you all and wish you fruitful deliberations.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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