Second day of ID4Africa event focused on practical solutions

May 26, 2016 - 

The ID4Africa Forum held in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, continued to examine electronic identity in Africa on its second and final day of session programming. The main theme for the event revolved around practical methods for developing successful eID schemes.

Through a series of workshops on Wednesday, the event allowed government officials from 36 African countries to explore a wide range of issues, including the establishment of foundational identity programs such as national ID and civil registration to functional applications, such as the use of identity schemes to implement social protection programs and manage labor mobility, elections, and healthcare. Also discussed during the workshops were issues of border management, which included the population management of refugees and other migratory groups.

The workshops, in effect, served as a capacity building forum where African government delegations were able to explore problems and challenges and seek input and advice from experts and vendors. Simultaneously, the full day of workshops provided an opportunity for the international development agencies in attendance, which included the World Bank, the African Union, the United Nations, the African Development Bank, Agence française de développement (AFD) and the ECOWAS Commission, to gain insight into the trends and requirements in their focus practices and geographic zones in order to assist their engagement planning and development.

Six workshops specifically examined: foundational identity registers, securing credentials and ID issuance systems, legal frameworks and governance of identity management solutions, economics and business models for ID schemes, ID systems and elections, along with social protection and financial inclusion.

The first workshop examined foundational identity registers and allowed participants to gain an understanding of practical strategies for integrating civil registration with national identity management systems and to understand the impact of UN sustainable development goal 16.9 on their identity practices. Workshop attendees concurred that civil ID and national ID registries should be under one roof as a best practice. The attendees also determined that clear guidance and harmonization guidelines should be established as a best practice as well.

The workshop dealing with securing credentials and ID systems examined the latest innovations for producing and issuing secure ID, along with understanding the threats that fraudsters employ to forge, tamper with and counterfeit ID. Workshop attendees concluded that more investment in strong credentials is needed to prevent malfeasance, since it is estimated that 53 million lost or stolen identity documents are in circulation in Africa.

The attendees believed technological innovations including physical, covert and forensic features must be considered to reduce counterfeiting. Other technologies including UV, laser etching, and hardware-based eID should also be employed. The attendees also recommended that eID production management and processes that involve government employees and vendors should also be designed to enhance security in credential manufacturing, in order to develop trust among all partners and citizens.

The third workshop allowed participants to gain a practical understanding of the legal and governance frameworks required for responsible deployment of identity management systems and for coherent policies and strategies to promote acceptance and trust of ID management systems. Workshop attendees concurred that frameworks must be transparent developed that: determine the power of authorities; ensures confidentiality; trust and security; defines systems, technology use and management; optimizes resources and reduces waste.

The fourth workshop provided a clear understanding of the economic impact of digital identity systems and explored pragmatic approaches and strategies of finance through a number of business models. Workshop attendees defined multiple models of finance options, which include government budget allocations; mixed finance models with government subsidy and private-public partnerships. The attendees found that there is an economic case to made for implementation of ID systems, based on other experiences, which include India’s Aadhaar and Nigeria’s integrated biometric database, which have both saved billions of dollars for their respective governments.

The fifth workshop provided an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of integrating or separating voter registries from foundational registers. The workshop provided practical knowledge concerning how to perform identity enrolment and verification, along with learning lessons that can be used to establish other functional identity registers, including social registers. Workshop attendees found that most African countries have separated their voter registration from their foundational ID systems, which creates an exponential increase in cost. The attendees found that challenges with IT capacity, quality of collected data and infrastructure are a near universal concern for all African countries employing a biometrics-based voter registry.

The sixth workshop provided its participants with an understanding of what is required to establish social and household registers, along with examining how to link those registers to wider national identity systems, in order to support social protection programs, inclusion and poverty reduction. Workshop attendees concluded that implementation of social protections is important for vulnerable citizens. They noted that efficient coordination and harmonization of social protection programs requires a singular registry in order to improve program delivery and reduce fraud. The attendees therefore believed that ID schemes with robust processes and transparency could reduce costs.

After the workshops concluded, attendees reconvened for a closing general plenary session that provided for a “rapid response” round of questions, answers and comments.

The session was “well received”, which was also the general consensus concerning the entire ID4Africa Forum. The event was deemed a success by the majority of attendees and by its host, the National Identification Agency of Rwanda.

The three-day event was the second annual government meeting of the ID4Africa Movement. ID4Africa bills itself as a multi-stakeholder movement that promotes the transparent and responsible adoption of digital ID management in the service of development in Africa. The third day is devoted to site tours by foreign government officials of Rwanda’s national identity authority. The organization’s aim is to share experiences and establish real world best practices that set the correct expectations for what is involved in launching and sustaining successful identity programs.

At the conclusion of the event it was announced that Namibia would be the host of the 2017 event.

Read more coverage from ID4Africa

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ID4Africa publishes report on Rwandan identity ecosystems

Nigeria and South Africa confront ID management complexity at ID4Africa

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Rwanda to introduce new eID card

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ID4Africa holds successful first day

Biometrics firms showcase identity solutions at ID4Africa

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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.