African countries embracing biometrics, digital IDs

From the spread of digital apps, like the Nigerian-based FarmCrowdy, which is helping farmers utilize technology to improve their operations, to Mpesa – the mobile money in East Africa, to the millions of mobile phone connections in sub-Saharan Africa, bypassing fixed-telephone line services, there are countless examples of how technology is transforming Africa.

The continent has embraced biometrics technology. By measuring people’s unique physical characteristics, typically through fingerprint, facial or iris recognition, biometric solutions can easily authenticate identity.

The Africa and Middle East biometrics market is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 21%, with the global biometrics industry set to reach US$82 billion by 2027, according to the “Biometrics – Global Market Trajectory & Analytics 2020” report published by US-based research firm Global Industry Analysts.

For governments, it’s not difficult to understand the attraction of biometric identification. In Zimbabwe, for example, after the Public Service Commission introduced a biometric system and ran an audit in 2020, in collaboration with the World Bank, they found 3,000 so-called ‘ghost workers’ and removed them from the payroll hence saving the country some money.

Other countries are looking into deploying biometric technology beyond the government sector. For example, in Kenya, the company Mission Excellence Global Service Ltd, which provides business solutions in healthcare and education using technology, has partnered with the Indian start-up Invento Robotics to deploy ‘Robodocs’. The machines create a remote connection to doctors and can take details of a patient’s temperature readings and pulse rates, using facial recognition to establish a unique patient record.

SOURCE: Africa Renewal
By: Finbarr Toesland