Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, July 29, 2022 – The National Identification Program (NIDP) has completed its use-case pilot to register 100,000 citizens and is working to ensure that its platforms are ready for scaling up. Aside from procurements and onboarding of registration devices, the program aims to scale its operations to over 10 million registrations in the 2015EFY (2022/23 fiscal year). Given the country’s large population size of approximately 120 million, a careful scale-up strategy is being considered before investing in resources and manpower.

To reach the current year’s goal of over 10 million digital IDs, various upgrades in both hardware infrastructure and software licenses are required. ABIS (Automatic Biometric Identification System) is one such critical software system required to ensure uniqueness in the millions of biometric data being collected using three modalities:10 fingers, dual iris and face. Based on the pilot’s experience as well as international best practices, deduplication is done using fingerprints and iris, while facial data is only used for authentication and KYC purposes.

The ABIS (uniqueness) multi-biometric engine and digital ID technologies that were used in the pilot were pro-bono licenses provided by a technology vendor called TECH5, which focuses on developing biometric and digital ID technologies. An agreement was made  between NIDP and TECH5 to use their ABIS license for the use-case pilot operations. Because of satisfying results from the pilot as well as the immediate need to scale for the current fiscal year, NIDP and TECH5 have agreed to extend their engagement through a second similar agreement for the current fiscal year. NIDP acknowledges TECH5’s kind support. and encourages both TECH5 and similar vendors to participate in future competitive tenders as the program investigates other ABIS platforms concurrently for the nationwide rollout. During the ongoing pre-launch phase of the program, digital IDs will be issued in selected programs from various sectors including, but not limited to, education sector projects such as Student ID and National Exams, social programs such as Productive Safety Net Program, Financial Sector applications in fintechs, credit systems, banking, loans and insurance, for up to 1,000,000 registrants in the coming months. The program has also onboarded the international firm EY as procurement consultants to help with rollout strategies and benchmark international practices on Digital ID procurements for the country-level rollout. 

For more information regarding this press release please contact Gelila Bayable at gelila@id.gov.et