The Government of Rwanda in efforts to strengthen its digital economy and establish a strong digital service delivery ecosystem, plans to issue digital identity (ID) cards to residents and citizens including stateless persons, and children at birth.
The digital ID card is set to replace the physical ones it currently issues in three years. It will allow residents to use such identification documents stored in their phones, and replace the current physical IDs, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire has said.
She further said, the digital ID will take three forms: mobile ID, a physical ID card with a QR code, and tokens. Biometric data will be collected for 10 fingers, compared to two fingerprints they used to collect for the existing IDs and iris scans. These digital ID cards are “recoverable,” even if the holder has lost one or forgotten their identification number.
The Parliament adopted a bill governing population registration in the national single digital identity (SDID) system.
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.
According to the bill, when an entity requests offline authentication, the information stored in the QR code is used to verify the identity of the holder of the digital card or credential before processing the transaction or service.
Ingabire said the draft law permits using biometric data for enrollment and verification, stating that “this is in accordance with data protection and privacy law.”
The bill also suggests that when a child is younger than five years, only their biographical information and front-facing photo be collected.
Also, they must link their SDID number, under applicable laws, to their national identification number and the number of a legal custodian.
Further, the National Identification Agency in Rwanda — the agency in charge of national population identification and civil registration — captures a child’s complete biometric data when the child reaches the age of at least five.