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Addis Ababa City introduces revolutionary digital ID system to combat identity fraud

Photo By Anteneh Aklilu

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By Eyasu Zekarias

Due to mismanagement of the civil registration system in previous years, identity fraud has become a major issue, allowing citizens to remain anonymous. To address this problem, the Addis Ababa City Administration is launching the “Digital Kebele mobile application,” a first-of-its-kind initiative in Ethiopia. This application will enable residents to access efficient services from anywhere and use their vehicle driver’s license for city services. It is a project that aims to utilize mobile phones as residence IDs, which can be used alongside ATM and similar cards.

The Addis Ababa City Administration has partnered with two software development companies to create the Electronic-ID and Mobile-ID system, overseen by the Innovation and Technology Development Office. TTSP, an indigenous technology solution provider, will complete and launch the system within six months. They have been operating in Ethiopia since 2015, offering hardware and software services in partnership with renowned companies like ORACLE, HUAWEI, EPSON, HP, LENOVE, DELL, and TIMWTECH. The international solution provider, PANGEA, based in Israel, brings over 30 years of experience in digital transformation solutions for government and corporate organizations. They specialize in biometric identity and security solutions, e-transport services, and multi-sensor analytics and insights platforms. Pangea Technology Solutions supports digital identity projects in the public sector, handling millions of verified documents, certificates, and personal ID cards.

Haile Mekonnen, the project manager of TTSP, highlights that the new system will organize scattered information, reducing service delays and improving the handling of crucial registrations. It will also facilitate information exchange between the government and civil registration institutions.

Research conducted by the Minister of Justice and the National Bank reveals that banks suffered a loss of 1.8 billion birr, including losses due to identity fraud, in the five years leading up to 2019. This loss was attributed to the lack of a centralized system to ensure the validity of Kebele IDs.

To address this issue, a digital ID called Fayda, with a 12-digit identification number, has been implemented and provided to citizens who have completed the necessary procedures under the National Identification Program of Ethiopia. However, the new system and process that will be implemented in six months in 119 districts and 11 sub-cities of Addis Ababa city will further bridge this gap.

Haile Mekonnen explains that the country’s first E-ID and Mobile-ID digital identification system will handle registrations of births, deaths, divorces, and marriages, as well as register permanent and temporary residents. It will also update previously registered systems, verify documents, and have its own Call Center.

Solomon Amare, the Head of the Innovation and Technology Development Bureau, reveals that in December 2022, the Addis Ababa City Administration approved an 8-year Smart City Roadmap as part of their six-pillar implementation plan. After more than a year of study, a project integrating Smart Governor and Smart City has been set in motion.

Solomon Amare emphasizes that the previous system, in operation for the past nine years, lacked a focus on modern technology. To address this, a committee was formed, including experts in Artificial Intelligence, the Information Network Security Agency, the Minister of Innovation and Technology, and Addis Ababa University of Science and Technology. Following their one-year study, the new system was implemented.

To establish a modern system connecting offices and agencies in 119 districts across 58 cities, all government institutions in Addis Ababa have been brought onto a single network at a cost of 481 million birr paid to Ethiotelecom. The necessary technological infrastructure for the new system is 97 percent complete, with the remaining steps focused on making it operational.

The new system ensures seamless connectivity for districts and sub-cities through direct access to the data center via the Internet. Unlike the previous system, this new initiative allows for comprehensive civil registration and identification services. Residents can conveniently access these services through their mobile devices or personal computers.

Last year, a data center connected to the HCI PLUS Software Find Network was established in the Institute of Civil Registration and Resident Services Agency, which became operational in August. Additionally, the city administration is planning to build an independent city-wide Cloud Data Center.

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