Biometrics has been discovered to be the new solution to the problems of fraud and inefficiency in African public sector budgets and also a backing for digital ID in Togo.

South African neighbors Zimbabwe and Zambia are considering ways to use biometrics to protect government budgets. The former is reducing the amount of its budget it spends on public sector wages, in part via biometric capture of staff to remove ghost workers, while a report is recommending that the Zambian government establish a biometric mechanism to keep public sector hands out of the till. And a Ghanaian team wins a high-profile prize for developing facial recognition software for identifying Africans.

The government of Zimbabwe has reported progress in reducing public sector salaries as a proportion of the national budget, bringing it below the 50 percent mark reports The Herald.

As recently as 2017, public sector employee wages accounted for 92 percent of all government spending. The progress has been achieved via hiring freezes and new management processes, but biometrics are also starting to have an effect.

Zimbabwe’s Public Service Commission recently announced that its biometric staff registration had already led to the removal of 3,000 ghost workers from the public payroll.

Togo: Parliament approves biometric ID scheme

Togo’s parliament has given the go-ahead to embark on “e-ID Togo,” the national biometric identity project, reports the country’s investment agency Togo First.

The digital identity scheme is expected to begin in early 2021 and will create a unique number for each citizen with aims to improve access to public services such as welfare and establishing universal public healthcare.

The minister for posts, digital economy and technological innovation, Cina Lawson, a high-profile advocate for tech-led development is quoted as saying, “the adoption of this law is historic because it lays the legal foundations of the system in Togo.”

Zambia: Report recommends biometrics to reduce public sector fraud

Over $200,000 of government was siphoned off by public officials, according to the 2019 Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Trends Report by the Financial Intelligence Centre.

The report, carried out along with Smart Zambia, recommends the creation of a biometric verification process to monitor what is happening with public funds.

The sixth annual report found that lawyers and accountants were being brought in to aid public sector officials to abuse their access to government money which was ending up in offshore accounts and property purchases.

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