08 Jun 2012

Egypt to Deploy 85 Million Digital ID Cards for its Citizens

Egypt plans to introduce a new generation of ID cards equipped with advanced biometrics in an attempt to modernize government services in the post-Mubarak era. The news was broken by Sherif Hashem, a senior advisor to the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology during the collaboration talks with Estonia in Tallin.

The digitization of the ID cards is a natural move for the 85 million citizens in Egypt, a country where mobile telephony penetration has surpassed 100%. The move will dramatically reduce bureaucracy by lifting off clerks the need to manually enter all data from ID cards when people access basic services like schooling, healthcare or banking. According to Hashem, citizens will be able to interact with the government and other national service providers in a more friendly manner, just like Estonians did 13 years ago.

“In a country with a revolution, we are a country short on resources,”said Hashem quoted by Ars Technica. “The insistence on keeping the paper-based transactions is unjustifiable. We've proposed this five years ago, but we now have a clear case. When we discussed this before [with our government], they said they don't see it in Europe or United States,”he continued.

This nation-wide project was proposed about 5 years ago, but it is only now that the Egyptian government is tackling an approach. The introduction of the new ID cards will complete the early stage of digitization that all Egyptians born since 1900 enjoy: digital birth records at the Civil Service Organization that can be accessed via barcode readers in some institutions.