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Nigeria Misses NIN Enrollment Target, World Bank Extends $430 Million Project Until 2026

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Nigeria’s ambitious plan to enroll a significant portion of its population for National Identification Numbers (NIN) has encountered a setback. The country fell short of its target of registering 148 million people by June 2024, prompting the World Bank to extend a critical $430 million project until 2026.

The World Bank, in a document titled “Restructuring Paper on a Proposed Project Restructuring of Nigeria Digital Identification for Development Project,” revealed the extension of the project deadline. Initially

Shortfall in NIN Enrollment

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) reported that as of May 2024, only 107.34 million Nigerians had obtained their NINs. This leaves a significant gap of 40.66 million people who haven’t been registered. While updated figures haven’t been released, it’s clear Nigeria needs to accelerate its enrollment efforts.

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This delay has led the World Bank, a key partner in the project “Nigeria Digital Identification for Development,” categorize it as “moderately satisfactory” but highlighted the need for an extension.

The project, approved in 2020, aims to bolster the country’s digital identity infrastructure.

Project Extension and Goals

The World Bank’s $430 million project is financed through a combination of sources: $115 million from the International Development Association (IDA), $100 million from the French Development Agency (AFD), and $215 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The project’s primary objective is to significantly increase the number of Nigerians with NINs. By 2027, the World Bank anticipates 85% of the population will be covered, making NINs a cornerstone of Nigeria’s digital economy.

However, disbursement of funds has been sluggish, reaching only 37.37% by June 2024. Critical disbursement conditions tied to nationwide NIN enrollment were a key factor in the delay.

Progress and Challenges

While Nigeria hasn’t achieved full enrollment, it has made progress towards meeting the World Bank’s conditions. Two out of three conditions have been fulfilled: enactment of a data protection law in June 2023 and the National Identity Management System (NIMS) gaining acceptance in March 2024.

The final hurdle lies with the National Assembly. Amending the NIMC Act to create a more inclusive and non-discriminatory legal framework is pending. This amendment is expected to be passed by September 2024.

The World Bank acknowledges the initial delays, attributing them to several factors. First, securing the National Assembly’s approval for the borrowing plan took longer than anticipated. Second, disbursement conditions hinged on enacting a data protection law, which caused further delays.

Another factor influencing the extension is the co-financiers’ stance. The World Bank explained that both AFD and EIB would withdraw their funding if the Bank ceased to be the lead financier. Continuity across all financiers and safeguarding the project’s positive impact on Nigeria’s digital identity infrastructure were deemed crucial.

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Expanding Capacity and Addressing Concerns

The World Bank highlighted NIMC’s efforts to expand its NIN storage capacity. Currently, the system can manage 80 million records. This capacity will be increased to 250 million by March 2025 to accommodate Nigeria’s growing population, estimated at 210 million.

The framework extension also necessitates adjusting the project’s results framework. This will ensure alignment with the government’s priorities while staying true to the project’s core objectives.

However, challenges remain. In April 2024, NIMC announced an expansion of its storage capacity from 100 million to 250 million records. Abisoye Coker-Odusote, NIMC’s CEO, emphasized their commitment to providing Nigerians with a “best-in-class solution.” However, data breaches have eroded public trust, prompting NIMC to recently identify and warn citizens against fraudulent websites.

Furthermore, NIN enrollment has fallen short of the government’s target of 2.5 million registrations per month. The Federal Government’s National Development Plan 2021-2025 aimed to enroll a 100 million Nigerians within three years.

 If You Ask Me

The World Bank’s extended support presents an opportunity for Nigeria to achieve its NIN enrollment goals. With a revised timeframe and focus on addressing critical issues like data security and enrollment efficiency, the project aims to achieve 85% NIN coverage by 2027. This widespread adoption of NINs is expected to play a pivotal role in strengthening Nigeria’s digital economy.

However, challenges remain. NIMC must effectively address data breach concerns and ensure a smooth and efficient enrollment process to bridge the enrollment gap and achieve its ambitious target. The successful implementation of this project hinges on collaboration between the World Bank, NIMC, and the National Assembly to overcome these hurdles and propel Nigeria towards a robust digital identity infrastructure.

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