ID4Africa 2017 wraps up with renewed commitment to digital identity for all Africans

April 28, 2017 - 

ID4Africa 2017 came to a successful conclusion in Windhoek, Namibia, on Friday with a series of announcements and plenary sessions.

A presentation on game-changing innovations for identity in Africa included the announcement by keynote speaker Anil Jain of Michigan State University of breakthrough research findings on fingerprint verification of babies, as well as talks on the potential for delivery of life-enhancing identity services via mobile devices, an open-source CRVS initiative, and the humanitarian case for distributed database technology and blockchains.

In a plenary session concerning organization business, Abuja, Nigeria was announced as the host for ID4Africa 2018, along with the theme of “Harmonization of ID Schemes,” an issue which was frequently brought up by both speakers and audience members in the preceding sessions. The 22 ID4Africa Ambassadors from national governments were confirmed for another year, though it was acknowledged that governmental changes within their countries may require several to be replaced.

Plenary sessions on day 3 of the third annual forum promoting responsible adoption of digital identity systems in Africa also included a series of rapid-fire summaries by rapporteurs from Ghana, Républic Démocratique du Congo, Mali, South Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Lesotho, and Djibouti designated to represent the “In Focus” sessions of day 2. This was followed by a lively audience-driven session titled “Identity in the Fishbowl,” in which attendees posed topics for further consideration, and then shared insights and experiences. During the 90-minute session several lines of dialogue were closed to allow time for others, and then continued in an informal setting afterword by attendees.

Representatives of numerous companies with booths in ID4Africa’s expo hall, including Iris ID, BioRugged, and Simprints, told Biometric Update that they are pleased with the level of interest and number of sales leads generated among African governments.

Work was also done toward setting the agenda for the following year, with a list of 20 priorities recurring in responses at ID4Africa 2017, such as building biometric registers for uses such as high coverage National Population Registers (NPRs), voter rolls, health records, and censuses, as well as business sustainability of ID systems, capacity building and training, ICT infrastructure and data security.

The event was officially closed by Master of Ceremonies Ambassador Patrick Nandago, Permanent Secretary, Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, and Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration the Honorable Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, who expressed optimism for the continued adoption of digital identity systems in Africa based on the results of the conference and the commitment of its attendees.

That commitment was evident in the continuation of discussions and information sharing beyond the official closing of ID4Africa 2017, which was typified by a spontaneous gathering of the delegations of Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe to discuss future plans for digital identity system adoption and participation in the ID4Africa mission.

As “official journalist” of ID4Africa 2017, Biometric Update will continue its coverage of the organization and its annual event with a series of in-depth features including interviews with stakeholders, examinations of companies, products and solutions geared toward the African market, and explorations of some of the key topics of discussion raised and dealt with during the forum.

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About Chris Burt

Chris Burt is a writer and contributor to Biometric Update. He has also written nonfiction about information technology, dramatic arts, sports culture, and fantasy basketball, as well as fiction about a doomed astronaut. He lives in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @AFakeChrisBurt."