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15 Jun 2023

The Rwanda National ID: An Example of Efficient Identification

Megan Keirstead

Product Marketing Manager

In an era where identification is essential for efficient governance and societal development, the Rwanda National ID card is a shining example of an effective and forward-thinking identification system. Developed to foster social integration and promote security, the Rwanda National ID has revolutionised how citizens are identified and empowered.

The History of the National ID

The roots of the Rwanda National ID can be traced back to the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, which devastated the country. Rwanda recognised the need for an inclusive and accurate identification system to foster unity and accountability in its rebuilding efforts.

The government launched the Rwanda National ID project in 2008 to create a secure and unified identification infrastructure for all its citizens—the project aimed to overcome the challenges of outdated identification systems and strengthen social integration.

A Remarkable ID System

The Rwanda National ID system boasts several key features that contribute to its remarkable quality:

It aims to be inclusive and accurate: The ID system ensures that every Rwandan citizen can access a unique identification document regardless of socioeconomic background or geographical location. This has led to an extremely high coverage rate, with over 90 per cent of adults 16 and over holding a robust national identity card (NID). Furthermore, the fee for a mandatory National ID is the lowest in Africa, costing applicants less than $1.

It leverages biometric technology: The National ID card incorporates advanced biometric technology, including fingerprint and iris recognition, which significantly enhances the accuracy and security of identification. These features make the ID card challenging to forge or duplicate, reducing the risks of identity theft and fraud.

It has multiple applications: The Rwanda National ID card is a multi-purpose document, providing citizens access to various services such as healthcare, education, banking, and voting. This consolidation of services into a single card streamlines administrative processes and eliminates the need for multiple identification documents.

Future Plans for the National ID Card

The Rwanda National ID system continues to evolve and improve to meet the changing needs of Rwandan citizens. The government plans to leverage the vast amount of data collected through the ID system to inform evidence-based policymaking, social planning, and resource allocation. This data-driven approach will enable more targeted and effective governance, benefiting the entire population.

Further Digitization
Rwanda plans to launch a digital national identity card that can be stored and used on smartphones, replacing the physical ID card. The new digital credential will include biometric data and be available to all residents from birth, unlike the current system, which starts at 16. The Rwandan parliament is reviewing legislation to enable the implementation of the digital ID card within the next three years. This initiative aims to address the issue of individuals who currently lack proper identification.

Verifying Rwanda National ID Cards
The Rwanda National ID card represents a remarkable achievement in identification systems. As the system continues to evolve, the Rwanda National ID stands as a testament to the power of effective identification systems in driving progress and empowering citizens. The Rwanda National ID is now the most prevalent ID card in the country and is the primary KYC document used for verifying identity.




With Smile ID, you can leverage ID Document Verification to verify Rwanda's National ID documents. With a photo of the ID card and a selfie, document verification confirms the document is authentic and matches the user's selfie to the ID card photo.

Download our complete Rwanda KYC guide to learn about onboarding users in Rwanda. This guide is a deep dive into the KYC/AML regulations and best practices for the Rwandan market.

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