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05.07.2024 Featured International Funders Threaten to Withdraw as Nigeria Fails to Meet Digital ID Project Deadline

Published 5th Jul, 2024

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

The French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have threatened to withdraw their funding from Nigeria’s Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) project if the World Bank ceases to be the lead financier and implementer.

This followed Nigeria’s failure to meet the project’s initial deadline and critical targets.

According to a disclosable restructuring paper published by the World Bank on June 26, the project will be extended by six months to December 2024 to avoid cancellation by the two co-financiers.

READ ALSO: How Nigeria Spent $630m on Leaking National Database

“Both co-financiers have indicated that they will cancel their financing if the World Bank is no longer the lead financier and implementor of this project. As such it is critical that the World Bank extend the closing date of the project to allow continuity across all co-financiers and avoid any disruptions to the good progress made so far and to safeguard the positive impact it has had on Nigeria’s digital identity infrastructure,” the document read in part.

The World Bank, in conjunction with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Union, released a $433 million grant to Nigeria in 2019 to fund ID4D. The project was designed to increase the number of Nigerians with access to digital identity.

The grant was also intended to strengthen the National Identity Management Commission (NIMS), improve data privacy and security and enhance authentication services in Nigeria. It was originally set to end by June 30, 2024.

According to the World Bank, however, the project experienced a 22-month delay after approval due to several issues on the Nigerian side.

These issues include approval delays on the part of the National Assembly, the absence of a comprehensive data protection law and the need for a new one, and lengthy hiring processes for key staff.

Beyond that, the World Bank said that the many transitions between stakeholders during the project contributed to the delay. According to the financial institution, the project has moved between three different government agencies and two project coordinators since it started.

As of June, the project had a 37.37 percent disbursement rate. In December 2023, Nigeria issued only 104 million digital IDs out of a target of 148 million.

READ ALSO: Minister Bosun Tijani’s NIN Slip Purchased Online for N100

Due to the delay and the consequent time constraint, the World Bank has deemed some of the initial objectives unrealistic and canceled them due to time constraints.

These include activities related to digitised civil registration, capacity assessment of the National Population Commission, creation of a national CR database and development of new digital birth registration mechanisms.

In March, FIJ reported that despite substantial funding from the World Bank, Nigeria’s National Database still suffers from data leakages and breaches that compromise citizens’ privacy. More recently, FIJ reported Paradigm Initiative’s claim that they purchased Minister Bosun Tijani’s National Identification Number (NIN) slip for just N100 online.

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Published 5th Jul, 2024

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

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