Nigerian national ID program: an ambitious initiative

The new Nigerian national ID card​ was launched on 28 August 2014 by President Jonathan Goodluck. 

Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” owing to its population of over 210 million inhabitants in mid-2021, the largest in Africa. UNICEF predicts that births in the country will represent 10% of the world’s total births by 2050. With the new e-ID program, the country is also signalling the broadest financial inclusion program on the continent. The new secure document is providing official proof of identity to Nigerians 16 years and older. There’s more.

Nigeria national ID card: 5 functions

​The Nigerian ID card acts as a:

  1. National identity card
  2. Travel document based on ICAO standards
  3. Electronic ID – offers strong authentication and digital signature. The microcontroller securely holds the National Identification Number (NIN), the holder’s address, name, and other details. This is also a key tool for banks for customer onboarding procedures known as KYC (Know Your Customer).
  4. ​Biometric eID – The card contains 10 fingerprints captured during the registration procedure. The card supports biometric identification​ through the use of fingerprinting. It uses the “match on card” method, making a fingerprint comparison on the card rather than on the reader. As the biometric data never leave the card, the interception of data during transfer to a reader is impossible.
  5. Payment card – The payment application turns the Nigerian national ID card into a tool for payments or can be used at ATMs or for transfers.  It will offer millions of Nigerians – most of whom have never had access to a banking service – the security, convenience, and reliability of electronic payments with 13 applications, including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology. 

​In the second phase, complementary applications such as a driver’s license or e-services, including eVoting, eHealth, or eTransport​, will be implemented.​ 

Needless to say that the registration of an additional 100m Nigerians in the next three to five years is an incredible challenge. That’s why, in October 2020, the NIMC announced that it would scale up enrolment and issuance from 500,000 to 2.5m monthly. In April 2021, the current number of monthly enrollments reached 2.6 million registrations.

Biometric SIM registration is a mandatory requirement for all mobile phone subscribers in Nigeria. Each SIM registration is mapped to the subscriber’s NIN, providing a new channel to identify citizens and facilitate credible transactions. This move is one of the key policy objectives of the Nigerian Government to stimulate the implementation of a Digital Identity Program.