World Bank’s Mission Billion challenge to tackle critical issues in digital identification

World Bank’s Mission Billion challenge to tackle critical issues in digital identification

The World Bank has announced the launch of the Mission Billion annual innovation challenge to address the most critical issues in digital identification as it works toward achieving sustainable development goal 16.9 to establish legal identity for all. Mission Billion is a collaborative effort between the World Bank’s ID4D group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Australian Government, Omidyar Network, and the World Economic Forum.

As the new project was announced, The World Bank, African leaders, and representatives from the UN and other development partners joined in sideline meetings at the UN General Assembly for the African Leaders Roundtable on Identification for Development. The meetings were intended to catalyze collective action, increase financial support, and harness innovation for digital identification and civil registration.

“Half of the one billion ‘invisible’ people without a formal identity are in Africa. No ID means no access to health, education, social protection and other vital services.” said Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank CEO and Co-Chair of the ID4D High Level Advisory Council. “We must work together to create inclusive and trusted digital ID systems that can unlock economic opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable people.”

The gaps in civil identification in Africa and their negative effects are well documented, and a focus of groups such as ID4Africa. The inaugural challenge identified by the Mission Billion project is the development of “privacy by design and greater control of personal data.”

The core question behind this challenge, according to the Mission Billion website, is: “How can digital identification systems in developing countries be designed to protect people’s privacy and provide them with greater control over their personal data?”

The Mission will attempt to answer this question with practical and cost-efficient Privacy by Design features that can be embedded into digital identification system in different countries.

“Mission Billion is an exciting opportunity to tap the most creative minds and tackle the global identification gap. When digital identity provides people with greater control over their personal data, it can empower them to create opportunities and access to services in ways that had been unimaginable just a decade ago,” said Nandan Nilekani, Founding Chair, Unique Identification Authority of India and a Member of the World Bank’s ID4D High Level Advisory Council who will serve as an advisor to Mission Billion.

The World Bank Group estimates that it will take $6 billion in investment to meet Africa’s identity needs.

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