By Mohammed Murad

Growing numbers of citizens in African nations from Algeria to Zimbabwe carry national ID cards to obtain social services, to vote, get a passport, register for school or access other public and private services. However, this is not just an African trend. A major international consulting firm estimates nearly half of the world’s population carries a chip-based electronic national identity card.

These cards play a critical role in developing nations where many citizens lack identity documents. A national ID card, the size of a credit card, typically includes the holder’s photograph and demographic data such as name, date of birth, gender, address and possibly ethnicity and religious affiliation.

However, it is not sufficient for governments to just take the word of a person applying for a card. There has to be a reliable way of authenticating identity. At the very least, authentication helps assure each citizen has a unique identity which cannot be claimed by another person. Accurate identities bind citizens and their countries. (read more)