The Ghana digital ID program has started delivering multi-application credentials to citizens, the start of an ambitious effort that officials say will result in the issuance of cards to some 16 million citizens within a year. Eventually, Ghana’s ID card could outpace similar ones in Europe in terms of how people can use them, according to Cryptovision, a vendor involved with the project.
The digital ID card also functions as a biometric travel document that will allow holders to travel freely within in more than dozen West African countries
The first GhanaCard was recently issued to the Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. It offers identity verification and “will enable strong two-factor authentication as a password replacement for e-government services online and will be used for the digital signature of electronic documents,” Germany-based Cryptovision says.
The digital ID card also functions as a “biometric travel document that will allow GhanaCard holders to travel freely within the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) sub region,” Germany-based Cryptovision says, referring to a group that has 15 countries, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. The 128-kilobyte card’s biometric capabilities include fingerprint and iris recognition, according to a report from ModernGhana.com.
Ghana digital ID to also function as a payment card
The digital national identification card is also suitable for financial transactions. “The plan is to enable citizens to activate the payment application after card issuance, contrary to the German electronic identity card (Personalausweis) and most other European identity documents,” Cryptovision says. Further details about how the payment feature on the Ghana digital ID cards would work were not immediately available.
Cryptovision says the national digital ID card and its related systems will be secured via Ghana’s deployment of a public key infrastructure. “This PKI is designed for 16 million certificate holders”, says Cryptovision CEO Markus Hoffmeister. “By incorporating several certification authorities and multiple certificates on each card, the GhanaCard PKI ranks among the most advanced certificate management systems worldwide.”
By incorporating several certification authorities and multiple certificates on each card, the GhanaCard PKI ranks among the most advanced certificate management systems worldwide
Cryptovision says that Ghana will issue the cards at a “hundred locations throughout the country, as the card issuance progresses through the country’s 10 different administrative regions.”
The company’s work on GhanaCard follows its involvement in a similar project in Nigeria. The primary contractor on Ghana’s national digital idea is Identity Management Systems, a subsidiary of Ghana-based Margins Group. Cryptovision provided such work as the applications on the card, the backend certificate infrastructure, and middleware components used at the card issuance terminals.