The Parliament of Rwanda has given a green light to revise a draft law that will allow the government to start issuing digital Identity Cards (IDs) for Rwandans, stateless persons, and children at birth.
The proposal was tabled this April 20, 2023 by the minister of ICT, Paula Ingabire who said that the Government of Rwanda considers digital ID as an enabler of the development of a strong digital economy and a strong digital service delivery ecosystem that will enhance productivity, income, and social well-being.
Ingabire said that the digital ID project is expected to be implemented in three years with funding of $40 million from the World Bank (WB)- which is already processed and will be released as soon as the law is revised and passed.
The Single Digital ID system (SDID) in Rwanda project follows an African Development Bank-supported feasibility study that assessed its legal and regulatory environment and suggested a review of the existing legislation, specifically on Law N°14/2008 of 04/6/2008 governing the registration of the population and issuance of the national identity card as amended to date.
The Government of Rwanda assessed the feasibility study findings and resolved to repeal the aforementioned Law due to the fact that most provisions in the Law could not accommodate the intended SDID implementation.
In the drafting processes, the bill was based on studies and benchmarks done on best practices and foreign legislations from countries that already have the SDID program such as the Estonian identity document act of 2000; the National Digital Identity (NDI) system for Singapore and the India’s Digital Identity Act (Aadhaar) of 2016 as amended to date, Philippine Identification System (Act No.11055 of 2018), Malaysian Digital Identification System and Canada’s digital ID.
“The enactment of the new law relating to enrollment into a single digital identity system will enable the country to close the existing gap in the current population identification system to a more advanced, effective, and efficient delivery of services in both private and public sectors,” Ingabire said.
What You Need to Know
The new digital ID will be provided to all Rwandans (in and diaspora).
The new ID will come in two forms- one in a hard copy form but with a QR scan code (matrix barcode) that contains one’s biometric info; the other with a Biometric ID code which will be a ‘soft copy’ that is accessible on smartphone or computer for those who have access to email and internet.
The new law is expected to provide solutions to the issue of stateless persons and other undocumented people. These will also get special IDs- as a category of the population who were not catered for in development programs and services (such as health insurance) while they needed services.
The digitization of personal data will collect all data relating to the identification of persons in one single system.
This will solve the problem of data formerly scattered, conflicting in the different databases of various institutions, registered on paper (files), and usually misplaced in files, making it hard to access.
The current law could not enable capturing and managing and authenticating people’s biometric information; however, with the new law, all biometric data will be collected with the permission of the user.
The National ID Agency (NIDA) which is currently under staff restructuring to adapt to the new system, will take full charge of implementing the project.
The former errors which were seen in the previous ID registration process of names and areas of residence will be easily corrected or updated by the ID owner whenever they find an error- they will do this by logging into the ID system.
The new system according to the Ministry of ICT, will also come with a reduction in the cost of services applied for at the current online government service portal-Irembo.
For instance, citizens requesting these digital services will be cost-free, and applying for a birth certificate or death and proof of existence will be done once and at a lower price.
In the first stage of implementation, a newborn child will have a digital identification card, which will be embedded in the same birth data, which can be revised as a child grows and seeks a full national ID card at age of 16.