The Federal Government says it has introduced digital tokens to replace the National Identity Number (NIN) slip.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said this at a workshop on the NIN Tokenization Solution organised by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Abuja.
He said the government adopted the solution to ensure the privacy of users’ personal information and to reduce incidences of illegal retrieval, usage, transfer, and storage of NIN.
The minister who was represented by the Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Abubakar, said the implementation of the tokens begins on January 1.
“One of the benefits of the virtual NIN is to ensure no third party may carry out any verification, hiding behind a proxy (and without the knowledge of the NIMC, being the Custodian of Identity),” the minister said.
“And also generated Token or Virtual NIN is unintelligent, completely random with no correlation to the NIN and cannot be reverse engineered, even by a Quantum Computer.
“The NIN holder is the only exclusive issuer of NIN and cannot be delegated,” Mr Pantami said.
He said anonymization was also catered for with the attachment of the UserID of the verifier to every verification request, adding that no NIN, no verification.
Mr Pantami said NIN tokens are MDA or merchant specific and expire after a set period of time, saying that a token generated for company A cannot be utilized by company B.
Mr Abubakar said that the aim of the programme was to rub minds with stakeholders to ensure understanding of the product and buy-in by all.
“We must continue to reinforce the need for every Nigerian to have a digital identity, irrespective of social class or economic status, improve access to all and ensure continuous protection of privacy and data of our citizens and other enrollees.
“We must sustain the momentum by creating continuous awareness programs and sensitizing of the public’ he said
Also speaking, the technical consultant of NIMC, Tunji Durodola, said the Digital Token was designed to replace the 11-digit NIN for everyday usage.
He said NIN had been shared and stored by various entities mostly without the knowledge consent or consent of the ID holder or the custodian of identity in Nigeria, NIMC.
Durodola said the improved NIN slip had a smaller firm factor and is available to all who have been issued an active NIN, saying they may be purchased without having to visit NIMC office.
“Some of the pre-requisite of tokenization, one needs a NIN issued by NIMC, mobile number registered in Nigeria and linked to your NIN,” he said.
NCC: N208bn 4G Telcos Investment To Boost Internet Speed
Communication giants, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and Airtel Africa have invested a combined sum of N208.56 billion in fourth-generation network and other capital expenditure in the first quarter of 2022, as part of efforts to boost fast internet service.
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Internet services in the nation is currently predominantly run on 2G and 3G networks.
It added that although 4G coverage is available to about 37 per cent of the population, download speeds are still uncompetitive with nations in the same income bracket as Nigeria.
The NCC in it’s release stated that telecommunications companies (telcos) have begun to increase their investments in 4G infrastructure.
MTN said it has rolled out 2,260 4G sites in the first quarter of this year to boost penetration.
In its earnings report for the quarter ended March 31, 2022, the company said, “Capital expenditure in the period was up by 80.8 per cent off a lower base in Q1 2021 and aggressive coverage expansion to capture growth opportunities, focusing on the 4G network and rural telephony programme.
“We are also frontloading some of our capex plan for the year as part of risk mitigation on supply chain disruption. Core capex, excluding the right of use assets, increased by 156.8 per cent, with capex intensity of 17.2 per cent remaining within target levels.
“We deployed 2,260 4G sites, representing approximately 85 per cent of the total sites deployed during the period and reflecting solid data revenue growth”, The firm added that 4G now accounts for 76 per cent of data traffic and covers about 72 per cent of the population.
In its earnings report for the financial year ended March 31, 2022, Airtel said, “We continued to invest in our network by expanding 4G coverage and building capacity to cater for the future needs of our customers and to continue providing them with high-speed data.
“Our expansion of 4G network capability across our footprint and connecting rural areas through deployment of new sites continued to be our two key focus areas. Our investment in the 4G network through single RAN technology has resulted in both expansion of our 4G coverage and enhanced network capacity.
“At the end of FY’22, 87.6 percent of our total sites are now on 4G, compared to 76.5 per cent in the previous year.”
The firm added that 99 per cent of its sites in Nigeria now have 4G capabilities.
According to the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025), 4G LTE network is needed to achieve this kind of download speeds.
Withdrawal Of Naira Notes: Stakeholders Call For Caution
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has debunked rumours that it is planning to withdraw naira notes from circulation and replace it with its digital currency, the eNaira, which was launched last October by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that stakeholders had warned the apex bank to desist from such move.
Director, Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, at the weekend, noted that, the statement purportedly to have been made during a stakeholders’ engagement on eNaira adoption in Asaba, Delta State, was misconstrued.
He, therefore called on the public to disregard such information in its entirety.
The eNaira is a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that was rolled out to improve financial inclusion in the country, reduce the cost of transactions, and boost security in the financial system.
According to Nwanisobi, the digital version of the Naira is meant to complement the existing currency notes and, therefore, will circulate simultaneously as a means of exchange and store of value.
On the benefits of adopting the eNaira, he said the digital legal tender, aside from the safety and speedy features, will also ensure greater access to financial services by the underbanked and unbanked populace, thereby enhancing financial inclusion.
Nwanisobi, therefore, urged members of the public and business owners to embrace the digital currency, the eNaira, saying it offers more possibilities.
Meanwhile, the eNaira speed wallet is expected to have another update which will allow users to pay bills and conumate online shopping payments directly from their wallets.
Stakeholders have, however, queried the decision of the government over planned removal of Naira notes from circulation.
They noted that in civilised societies, physical money exists side by side with other forms of financial transactions.
Speaking in an interview the The Tide’s source, the President of National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees of Nigeria (NUBIFIE), Comrade Anthony Abakpa, expressed wonder how such a policy could be brought out without enough preparation and enough awareness.
“The CBN ought to give enough time to enable Nigerians prepare for it. CBN should know that not every Nigerian is having bank account, talkless of e-money. Most of them who cannot write would not be carried along.
“What CBN needs most is ability to educate everyone on it and save people from demoralisation, because it will demoralise and be cumbersome to many people and they will lose confidence in government.
“CBN should run both physical and e-money together, not total removal of physical notes from circulation”, Abakpa said.
On his part, the General Secretary of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSAN), Comrade Lucky Odigie, urged Federal Government to desist from policy summersaults.
He said, “Federal Government should not start what it will not be able to sustain. In fact, this policy has already failed before birth.
“How can Government just wake up with policy that would add more burdens to the masses that have already been pushed to the wall?”
Odigie also advised FG to always put the interest of the masses first in all their planning in order to reduce harsh economic situations that are pushing some into vices.
NMDPRA Unveils Regulations On Gas Pricing, Pipeline Tariff, Others
The Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) says it is drafting six regulations on midstream and downstream operations to bring clarity, improve business processes and ease of doing business in the sector.
This, it said, is to enhance efficient operations of the oil and gas industry.
The Authority Chief Executive (ACE), NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, who made this known in a meeting with members of the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG) in Abuja, said the regulations are on gas pricing, environmental management plan, environmental remediation fund, decommissioning and abandonment, gas infrastructure fund and natural gas pipeline tariff.
Ahmed also informed the Group that a working team, chaired by Mr Ogbugo Ukoha, Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage & Retailing Infrastructure (DSSRI) was set up to review the draft regulations, engage and consult stakeholders for smooth implementation when released.
“One of our key concerns is boosting local refining. Dangote and BUA refineries are coming on board. However, we want to see more companies investing in refineries so we can stop the importation of refined petroleum products, save our foreign earnings, create jobs and add value to the economy’’.
The NMDPRA boss noted and commended the gradual growth of indigenous players in local exploration and production of petroleum products.
Earlier, the IPPG Chairman, Mr Abdulrazaq Isa, said the IPPG was an association of 25 indigenous Exploration and Production (E&P) companies with the vision to promote the continued development of the Nigerian petroleum industry for the benefit of industry stakeholders and the nation.
Isa noted that timely communication with industry players was important at this time that the Authority is going through a transition period.
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