Thursday, May 23, 2024
NewsBanks take on national digital ID enrollment with 6,000 kit procurement process

Banks take on national digital ID enrollment with 6,000 kit procurement process

Ethiopian bankers’ lobby group is looking for a company to provide 6,000 biometric registration kits as part of its effort to streamline the registration process for the National ID system.

Requesting potential bidding companies to deposit nearly half a million USD as a bid security, the Ethiopian Bankers Association (EBA) issued a bid inviting the suppliers to submit their offers until November 10, 2023.

Established in September 2021 under the supervision of the Office of the Prime Minister, the National ID Project Office is tasked with issuing resident the digital identification cards.

Under the leadership of its Executive Director, Yodahe Zemichael, the Project Office had registered approximately three million people by the end of 2022, with a goal of registering six million more by year’s end.

After partnering with the Project Office, EBA’s 29 member banks took on the responsibility of registering all their clients by the end of 2024 to complete the identification process.

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In an effort to ensure availability of at least one kit at most branches, the bankers’ association estimated the number of kits that would need to be procured. A kit is estimated to cost USD 3,000 to USD 3,500, potentially requiring tens of millions in funds from the banks.

The two bodies, along with the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), conducted several discussions to strengthen their partnership in issuing national IDs. The banks, according to Abenezer Feleke, director of communications at the Project Office, have huge potential to help the office meet its targets.

“It isn’t viable for us to go out and ask everyone to register. We have to integrate it into a few use cases so that the public would practically know the benefit of registering for digital IDs,” he explained, detailing why bank branches are ideal registration centers.

Data from the central bank shows the number of bank branches across the nation surpasses 10,000, with the largest state-run Commercial Bank of Ethiopia operating in approximately 20 percent of the nationwide tally.

 “All 29 banks under the association agreed to buy the kits at their own cost and finish registering clients by next year’s end,” added Abenezer.

In June of this year, the NBE and Project Office announced a joint initiative with two main pillars: onboarding customers of financial institutions onto digital ID platforms and using digital IDs in the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process, so that digital IDs can also serve as bank IDs.

The Project Office currently has about 400 kits, with another thousand in process, in addition to the 6,000 that the bank association will procure. The kits are now distributed to the 186 registration sites situated at a few branches of Revenue authorities and over 80 bank branches, among others.

The Project Office covered the cost of most kits currently deployed, financing their procurement through the federal budget. Additionally, the World Bank purchased a number of kits to support the pilot implementation phase of the program.

An Indian-based company, Madras Securities Printing, was recently awarded the contract to mass print digital cards. However, the Project Office does not aim to immediately hand out cards to everyone registered, as management intends to delay the card delivery process for those who are digitally literate. 

“There are segments of the population who are digitally illiterate, do not use smartphones, and are unable to memorize their digital number—especially people residing in remote areas. They are the ones who need the cards most. We plan to prioritize distribution to these individuals,” Abenezer said.

Working with the Ethiopian Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Project Office is also gearing up to register internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, and returnees.

Through this partnership, there is a target of registering approximately 20 million people, including refugees and their host communities—some of whom are prioritized to receive printed cards.

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