The challenges of digitalisation of Hajj

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NAHCON Chairman, Barr Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed with the representative of Senate President, Senator Sahabi Abdullahi during hajj 2019 stakeholders meeting held in Abuja


For every information technology innovations, there is a backend window that comes with it posing a challenge of how to secure it from human fraud. This is probably what inform NAHCON Chairman, Barr Abdullahi Muhammad to caution state Muslim pilgrims boards boss to be vigilant and to monitor the activities of their ICT departments during the hajj stakeholders meeting held this week at national mosque in Abuja


Abdullahi said that the 2019 Hajj operations will be driven by Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and this necessitates the call for proactive measure. Speaking during the event, the Chairman/CEO of NAHCON, Barr. Abdullahi Mukhtar Mohammed said this year’s Hajj is coming with its peculiarities. “Unlike in previous exercises, visa procurement for the 2019 Hajj is IT based. individual states and tour operators are now responsible for processing their visas online. Now, there is no need to take passports to the embassy or consulate in Kano”.


This e-tack system leaves no room for changes, corrections and substitutions. This means that any deliberate manipulations of the system or major mistake can deny genuine pilgrims opportunity to perform Hajj because each Visa processed, payment is generated electronically and the account of NAHCON is debited.


The new system is called E – track. According to Saudi Ministry of Hajj, the E-tracking project is an “electronic system that seeks to achieve a great turnabout in the procedures of the arrival and departure of pilgrims and to follow up the services provided to them during their stay in the Kingdom. This is achieved by linking the Hajj visa of every pilgrim to a package of services consisting of specific elements, such as housing, transportation, and food service, which should be clearly stated and announced via this electronic system, so that the pilgrim can identify these elements in advance before his arrival at the Kingdom. Besides, the monitorial authorities will be able to follow up how the services registered in the system match the services that are provided.”


Consequently, this will lead to the immediate removal of irregularities and to holding the negligent to account, according to the regulations and instructions. Services provided to pilgrims can be track and monitored via an online electronic platform. It is a welcome development, especially for Nigerian pilgrims. It has created a two-way channel of communication between pilgrims and hajj service provider. The most significant aspect of the platform as rightly highlighted by the Chairman of NAHCON at the recent Stakeholders meeting is that: it has brought transparency to hajj exercise, it has simplified hajj procedures and it has made it easy for the commission to quantify the service provided to its pilgrims.

The electronic system has five integrated segments: The Eligibility, Guarantees, Contracts, the formation of service packages, and the issuance of a visa.


Procession and issuance of visa has now been centralized as opposed to the previous system where each states pilgrims’ boards’ process and send their visa request to the Saudi Embassy


Currently, pilgrims who are coming from other countries are linked to Hajj and Umrah service-providing companies and agents in their countries. The electronic visas will now be issued to these entities that are licensed to facilitate Hajj and Umrah in these countries.

This new development requires training and retraining of hajj administrators and to effectively creates ICT gatekeepers in each state Muslim pilgrims welfare boards in the country.

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