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iCivil promises much needed birth registration in Africa


Despite continued efforts by governments and international organizations, approximately 230 million children under five have not had their births registered throughout the world, and more than 100 developing countries do not have well-functioning systems in place to register key life events, such as births and deaths.

In light of this, an African company has developed an integrated mobile technology solution designed to facilitate universal birth registration in developing countries.

The firm, entitled ‘iCivil’, aims to address the problem of birth registration, especially in the African countryside. The problem becomes extremely acute when one considers that Africa’s population is projected to reach 1.3 billion by 2050, which is a 190 percent growth increase from today’s population estimate. Today, in sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than 40 percent of births are unregistered, which means that those people effectively have no access to health, education or other benefits of citizenship.

To address the problem, iCivil has developed a comprehensive system to register newborns by way of a unique, personalized identification tag and an accompanying Android-based mobile application.

Under the system at birth, a newborn receives from a nurse or a midwife a bracelet which incorporates a patented unique “bubble seal”, accompanied by a QR code, a 2-D barcode that can store digital information, and a serial number.

Once the bracelet is assigned, the nurse or a midwife can use an Android-based mobile application from iCivil to fill out a questionnaire, which records vital data, including the names of parents and the child, along with the gender of child and other important details.

Once the questionnaire is completed, an encrypted SMS message is transmitted over mobile cellular networks to a central registration server operated by civil authorities. With that data on file, parents can then travel to a government office and present the bubble seal bracelet to obtain a birth certificate, without necessarily returning to the place of birth.

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Since its launch in August 2015, the iCivil system has registered more than a thousand newborns in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital. The inventors hope it will soon be implemented nationally and then internationally.

In addition to birth registration, the iCivil system can be used to conduct census registration, and its secure and digital characteristics prevent identity theft and administrative fraud, says its co-inventor Adama Sawadogo.

“What makes this system so special is that uses a patented bubble tagging technology,” stated Sawadogo in an exclusive interview with BiometricUpdate.com at the ID4Africa conference last May. “The ‘ProofTag’ technology, developed in France, generates a code that is totally random, and therefore ensures uniqueness. In addition, each unique bubble code lasts for more than a human lifetime, which ensures longevity and durability for record keeping.”

Sawadogo’s hope is that his birth registration system emerges as the basis of singular civil directories for developing nations, that include marriage, divorce, death and driver’s license records.

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