…As global industry is set to reach $82bn by 2027
…Question arise as to where Nigeria stands in all of this
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Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
As the global biometrics and digital technology industry hits $82 billion by 2027, Africa’s biometrics, earlier put on hold, due to Covid-19 restrictions last year, is set to recover lost ground from 2020 hiatus – as the biometrics market in Africa and the Middle East is expected to grow at an annual rate of 21 per cent, a report by Global Industry Analysis, a research firm, has proven.
Last year, digital technology identity systems backed by biometrics were put on hold by most national governments across Africa to prevent the spread of Covid-19. But all that is set to change on a positive level the report said.
During much of 2020, governments shut down registration campaigns to prevent Covid-19 spread. As data is often collected by businesses and governments during physical enrolment sessions, but the rollout and adoption of biometric technology took a step backward no thanks to the virus.
However, with Q1 already gone, analysts still expect the trend in biometrics and digital technology to change, despite the fears of resurgence of a “third wave” in Africa. They say biometrics market on the continent and the Middle East (AME) would grow at an annual rate of 21 per cent.
While on the global stage, the biometrics and digital technology industry would see a jump to reach $82 billion in 2027, Africa will only account for just a fraction of the market. However, the continent has been seeing steady gains over the years. Today, almost 50 countries of the continent’s 55 now issue e-passports.
For example, last year, Tanzania, eastern African economic hopeful, made it mandatory for all phone users to register their SIM cards biometrically. In Nigeria, continental giant, the government issued instructions ordering citizens to link up their SIM cards with identification number generated biometrically. For Togo, West African neighbour, the government used a biometric register to administer cash transfers remotely to needy citizens.
Tech experts say biometric technology can be applied both commercially and publicly in sectors ranging from healthcare to education. Today, there is an ever-increasing number of startups working in the space. For instance, Kenyan company Mission Excellence Global Service has partnered with Indian start-up Invento Robotics to create machines known as “Robodocs” that take readings from patients and add the data to a unique patient record using facial recognition.
Ghana-based BACE group has also created a digital identity verification system that uses facial recognition powered by artificial intelligence (AI) an application that today, is being used in sectors ranging from security to transportation.
Where is Nigeria in all this?
With several biometrics undertaken by virtually all Nigerian government agencies: FRSC (with driver’s licence; WAEC and JAMB (with secondary and tertiary matriculation examinations); NIS (with e-passport application); NCC (with SIM registration), among others, experts adduce that Nigeria needs to harmonise its biometrics and digital technology – instead of the current confusing cacophony of biometrics data in its tech space.