ID4Africa advocates for social inclusion through digital identity

April 28, 2016 - 

ID4Africa describes itself as a movement promoting digital identity as a driver of socio-economic development in Africa.

ID4Africa was co-founded by the Asia Pacific Smart Card Association (APSCA) and Identity Counsel International (ICI) to serve as a multi-stakeholder organization that promotes the transparent and responsible adoption of digital identity in Africa.

The aim of ID4Africa is for governments to share experiences and establish real world standards that set the correct expectations for what is involved in launching successful identity programs. Identity has become an important tool for social inclusion, empowerment and development, and ID4Africa aims to provide the education necessary for governments to lay the significant groundwork necessary to deploy effective electronic identity systems.

“We believe that our organization is also a movement,” stated Dr. Joseph J. Atick, Executive Chairman, ID4Africa. “We work to encourage the building of robust digital identity systems across Africa to accelerate inclusiveness, growth and socio-economic development on the continent.”

The organization has an annual meeting to advance the dialogue. This takes the form of a forum and an exposition exposition on digital identity and associated applications, also entitled ID4Africa. The event provides a comprehensive platform for governments, international development agencies, solution providers and domain experts to exchange ideas and information.

ID4Africa held its inaugural meeting last year in Dar es Salaam. The meeting was hosted by the National Identification Agency (NIDA) of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Tanzania. Attended by over 300 delegates, the conference held in 2015 involved over 100 government decision-makers from 27 countries. The event provided a powerful opportunity for speakers and panelists from government agencies, international and regional organizations and technology solution providers to interact, and provided African nations with a unique opportunity to compare experiences, share knowledge and pool resources to build capacity related to developing identity systems. Many attendees have given the event high praise, including those from the highest profile companies, including MasterCard.

“I believe that the conference was a huge success,” said Sunday Oladejo, a Project Manager for West Africa from MasterCard. “The knowledge sharing was helpful and I believe that governments across Africa were able to gather more information about how best to implement a successful identity management system. Of greater interest to MasterCard was how the forum was able to highlight the importance of integrating payment within the National ID infrastructure as a means of achieving financial inclusion.”

Indeed, a main objective of the event was to emphasize the ID4Africa’s driving mission, which is to provide legal identification to all Africans in order to drive social and economic development.

A study released by Accenture and the World Bank in 2015 noted that over 1.8 billion adults in developing countries currently lack an official ID and therefore have no access to essential services. The study noted that 650 million children do not have identification. The report stated civil identification systems that are interoperable with social and other programs can facilitate citizens’ access to economic opportunities including access to employment and finance. Due to lack of ID credentials, at least 500 million people worldwide cannot open bank accounts. ID4Africa seeks to address this issue on the African continent by bringing together industry stakeholders and governments to develop solutions.

ID4Africa’s mission advocates five specific activities, which includes:

• promoting the responsible adoption of digital identity in order to enhance people’s lives, make them visible, and empower them to claim and exercise their rights from birth-to-death with dignity and respect.
• promoting access to knowledge and information by the identity stakeholders so that policies and investments about identity systems are informed and based on sound evidence and experience.
• promoting “South-South” knowledge transfer related to identity in order to better understand the practical implications of different options depending on the context.
• promoting the emergence of a robust commercial identity marketplace, which allows many vendors, products, solutions, and technologies, to continually compete on innovations, features, performance and price for the benefit of Africa.

The last activity is to organize an annual meeting, accessible to all African nations, in order to actively engage and discuss identity matters and to lay out the ID development agenda for the upcoming year. This year’s meeting will be held in Kigali and is hosted by the National Identification Agency (NIDA) of the Republic of Rwanda

ID4Africa expects an over 50 percent increase in the number of attendees in Rwanda for the 2016 conference (with over 550 delegates already registered), along with double the number of exhibitors showcasing latest solutions and technologies for government electronic identity programs, and an even more phenomenal opportunity for networking.

The program will also be enhanced through the addition of a stand-alone workshop on data protection and privacy, an issue that has become critical as countries look to adopt the requisite legal frameworks that accompany digital identity schemes. The new workshop will be led by highly experienced legal counsel from a leading development agency and will feature a lineup of policy experts from Africa and Europe.

ID4Africa has also invited a larger number of speakers for the 2016 event and will introduce a parallel track structure for the event’s second day, in order to allow attendees to choose sessions based on their interest and needs. With these additions, ID4Africa will be the largest and most influential event addressing the topic of eID in Africa.

Read more coverage from ID4Africa

Rwandan ID agency sites visits on third day of ID4Africa

ID4Africa publishes report on Rwandan identity ecosystems

Nigeria and South Africa confront ID management complexity at ID4Africa

Credence ID launches product, partnership at ID4Africa

Second day of ID4Africa event focused on practical solutions

Integrated Biometrics demoed products, launched online toolkit at ID4Africa

Rwanda to introduce new eID card

ID4Africa introduces new ambassador program

ID4Africa holds successful first day

Biometrics firms showcase identity solutions at ID4Africa

ID4Africa event opens in Kigali next week

ID4Africa advocates for social inclusion through digital identity

ID4Africa reports record-setting attendance

BiometricUpdate.com was the official journalist for the 2016 forum and exposition.

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About Rawlson King

Rawlson O’Neil King is a contributing editor at BiometricUpdate.com and is an experienced communications professional, management consultant, trade journalist and author who recently published a book about control and electronic networks and who has written numerous articles in trade publications and academic journals about smart home and building technologies. Follow him @rawlsonking2.