Much in life depends on linking the right access and services to the right person. No wonder then that verifying and managing identity is a growing industry.
The issue of voter identity was topical in South Africa when local government elections took place in early August and the Independent Electoral Commission was in a tight legal spot over the need to include voters’ addresses on the voters’ role.
“It is all about making sure that only eligible people vote where they are supposed to,” says Hennie Meeding, head of e-government solutions, Africa, at Bytes Systems Integration. “Fortunately, technology can help.”
The technology Hennie refers to, is identity management.
Identity management is becoming synonymous with managing large, distributed population needs, particularly when it comes to a government’s obligation to provide smart, secure identity cards, drivers’ licenses and passports, or ensuring a clean, accurate voters’ roll.
The latter is where the Bytes identity management solutions are making a difference.
In Tanzania, for example, Bytes supplied a biometric solution that solved the Electoral Commission’s voter registration headaches.
Each registration station received a laptop, a ten-finger fingerprint scanner, a camera, a digital signature pad, a document scanner for supporting documentation, and a printer to print PVC voter cards.
Included in the sturdy, wheeled suitcase in which the equipment is packaged, are back-up batteries and a solar charger.
Bytes also provided a configured software registration platform to guide and verify each enrolment, and transmit the data to a central database.
“Apart from making sure the technology does what it is supposed to, the big challenge is to ensure the solution is designed for where and how it will be used,” says Hennie.
“A biometric registration kit must be able to operate in remote rural areas, which may lack reliable infrastructure and require the negotiation of some rough terrain. And while training is an integral part of our offering, both the hardware and the software must be easy to use.”
Identity management solutions is a developing market for Bytes. Opportunity abounds as many African countries make the transition from resource-intensive, paper-based identity solutions to ones based on digital technology.
In this leapfrog to cutting-edge technology, cost and complexity are reduced, while accuracy and security are dramatically enhanced.
“We are leveraging Bytes’ experience and footprint in Africa to create identity management solutions that fit the reality on the ground,” says Hennie.
“That’s the advantage of not working from some lab in Europe.”
A system that reliably and securely establishes the identities of a country’s citizens is important for state functions ranging from elections to pension payments.
It is also the foundation of the inclusive economic development on which Africa’s future depends.
“It is for these reasons that we have put so much effort into creating a solution that is convenient, fit-for-purpose and secure,” says Hennie. “Ours is an identity management solution for Africa, designed and supported by Africans.”
This article was published in partnership with Bytes Technology Group.