As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, some African institutions are reacting by suspending fingerprint-based biometric access and attendance systems in the hopes of reducing the risk of transmission. Limited testing facilities for the virus mean the extent of the spread is unknown and countries are responding in different ways as Morocco closes its airspace and Cameroon requires a document certifying that the bearer is free of Covid-19 before entering the country. ID4Africa 2020 has been postponed until October 28 to 30.
Elsewhere, disagreement has surfaced about what hardware to use for election registrations in Ghana and whether biometrics are reducing corruption in Uganda. In more positive news, several companies have announced positive developments in leadership, financing, and a major customer win.
Nigeria: Yellow Fever e-certificate enforced
The requirement to show a vaccination certificate against yellow fever to enter the country has been reinstated and an e-document version linked to the bearer’s biometrics is required to leave the country.
The minister of health Osagie Ehanire announced that the requirement had been temporarily suspended to allow nationals to return home amid the coronavirus outbreak but that the reintroduction was to guard against the spread of yellow fever.
The biometric e-yellow cards are intended to reduce the number of cases of people buying fake certificates.
Mali: Biometric health cards go into effect April 1
Malians will have to switch to a biometric health ID card by April 1 in order to keep accessing health services paid for by the compulsory health insurance (AOM).
The funding body – CANAM – has changed to biometric cards to reduce fraud of the public health scheme. Large swathes of the north of the country are effectively without government control and it is not clear how many people have been able to register biometrically with CANAM.
Egypt: Biometric attendance systems suspended
Egyptian institutions have suspended fingerprint-based biometric systems to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.
Government and judicial facilities have stopped using fingerprint readers nationwide and restricted attendance to just the critical personnel required for various functions, and employees must wear face masks if dealing with foreigners.
Civil servants will use paper attendance forms and banks are looking to introduce biometric cards rather than requiring physical contact. Similar suspensions are taking place elsewhere such as India and South Africa.
Uganda: Biometrics haven’t reduced corruption
“Since the digitisation and use of biometric technology of some government processes and procedures, Ugandans had hoped that electronic taxation and improved methods of work would reduce corruption.
Nyeko considers the recently-released report from the Auditor General for 2018-19 and examines the contributing factors for the large financial losses in the country, finding the way biometrics are used is not a silver bullet.