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International identity community arrives in Abuja for ID4Africa 2018

International identity community arrives in Abuja for ID4Africa 2018

Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) welcomed delegates to the ID4Africa 2018 at a press conference Monday in the capital Abuja, as delegates arrived for registration. Executive Chairman Dr. Joseph Atick announced the launch of a petition which will be delivered to the United Nations to urge that September 16 be adopted as “International Identity Day,” with details to be announced during the event.

ID4Africa was co-founded by the Asia Pacific Smart Card Association (APSCA) and Identity Counsel International (ICI), in recognition of the potential benefits of establishing legal digital identity for the millions of Africans without one, and the great strides

ID4Africa 2018 is the fourth annual conference of the ID4Africa Movement, a multi-stakeholder organization promoting the adoption of responsible digital identity development on the continent and UN sustainable development goal 16.9, which aims to establish legal identity for all people worldwide by 2030.

More than 1500 delegates are confirmed for the 4th annual meeting of the pan-African identity movement, an increase of over 50 percent from 2017, driven by demand from African governments, whose representation has more than doubled to over 800 attendees from 47 nations across the continent.

At a press conference hosted at the headquarters of Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), General Manager and Local ID4Africa Chair Hadiza Ali-Dagabana said that requests for late registration could push the number of delegates up to 1600.

The increase was not specifically intended by ID4Africa organizers, Dr. Atick told Biometric Update. Organizers focused rather on achieving a deeper impact through the quality of actionable information provided, achieved by careful selection of participating speakers.

“Inclusion and pan-Africanism is the goal of ID4Africa, and from that perspective this year’s event is already a considerable success,” Dr. Atick says.

The event also includes 113 biometrics and other identity technology providers, which is all the more impressive given that industry consolidation eliminated several past participants, and includes roughly two dozen new companies.

The theme for the 2018 event is “Harmonization of Identity Schemes,” decided on by popular demand as African nations work towards the establishment of interoperable identity schemes that leverage existing investments and provide complete population coverage. Avoiding and breaking down identity silos was a major theme of last year’s conference in Windhoek, Namibia. Additionally, the inaugural ID4Africa almanac features an article on “Harmonization of the Identity Ecosystem: A Pragmatic View” by Atick.

“NIMC is very pleased to be the host for this year’s milestone event. We have been part of the ID4Africa movement since inception and have seen the value of the annual meeting in advancing the national identity agendas,” said NIMC Director General and CEO Aliyu Aziz. “NIMC has been making significant progress towards creating a harmonized ecosystem that will serve the needs of Nigerians. We are excited to share with others our experience and to learn from them about ways to improve what we are already doing. Soon identity will be placed at the heart of actions of all Nigerians and we want to be ahead of the curve to facilitate and secure their lives, starting with the attribution of the National Identification Number – a unique identifier that will unlock a world of services to our citizens.”

Sessions during the event are divided into legal identity and civil registration, reforming government practices, smart border, identity and democracy, technology, and health. Speakers have assembled from development organizations such as the World Bank and UNDP, governments from across Africa and around the world, and the biometrics and identity industry.

“We assemble this year at a time when identity development in Africa is on the move and gaining momentum after a solid year of progress,” Dr. Atick added. “The dialogue is entering a new level of maturity in our 4th year. Identity management in Africa is now sophisticated and requires significant depth to unleash the full promise of digital identity in empowering people to claim their rights and simplify their lives. The stakeholders in the identity ecosystems in Africa are coming to deeply explore how to deliver on the expectation of their people for a world where actions are secure and facilitated and contribute collectively to the social and economic development of their countries. This is an exciting time in the history of Africa, where technology and enlightened public policy about identity are converging to improve lives. We are pleased to be a catalyst in that transformation.”

Delegates could be found sharing discussing their experiences and discussing biometric technology at the registration area of the Abuja’s International Conference Centre and in nearby hotels as anticipation builds. Public banners and media presence at the packed press conference indicate a high level of excitement in Africa’s most populous country.

As “Official Journalist” of ID4Africa, Biometric Update will provide ongoing coverage of the event live from Abuja.

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