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Rwanda’s new digital ID birth registration system brings services closer to citizens

World Bank reports on birth registry success

digital identity biometric registration

The ordeal Rwanda parents used to go through to establish birth registration for their children and the difficulty to access certain social services is now a thing of the past following an overhaul of the country’s birth registration system to provide digital ID at the time of birth.

The old system laid a heavy burden on parents in terms of accessing birth registration facilities, leading to a registration rate for children under five of only 44 percent as of 2014, according to a World Bank blog report.

But the new digital ID system in place since August 2020, which in intended to ensure legal identity for all, good governance, and evidence-based decision making for sustainable development, has improved the situation, the report explains.

As outlined in the national civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) strategic plan, the new system was put in place by Rwanda’s National Identification Agency (NIDA), with the assistance of the World Bank, the Global Financing Facility (GFF) and the Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative, under the World Bank Strengthening Social Protection Project.

The government amended a law in 2020 to allow health facility officers to perform Civil Registrar roles to support the establishment of a modern digital ID system and enable fast electronic registration and certification of vital events such as births.

The system assigns a unique identification number to every child registered at birth, which also makes possible direct and real-time integration of births and deaths to the national population registration system.

Between August 2020, when the system went operational, and January 2021, around 70,800 births and 1,350 death were registered in health facilities that are connected to the national system, largely thanks to a government-led awareness raising and sensitization campaign on the issue, the report says.

The new system in place is also more harmonized for accurate databases, and social services have been brought closer to citizens as government can now channel such schemes to the right persons to enable them improve their growth, learning and earning capacities, which are all crucial to developing the country’s human capital.

Taking Ntirugirimbabazi Claudine, a mother of three, as a case study, the report demonstrates how her sufferings in establishing birth registration for their children were turned around as a result of the new birth registration system.

“This time around, my sister in-law helped me with the process right there, in the hospital. I was only required to show my ID. We were told that our child is now electronically identified in all other relevant government databases and we were given a number to use to get the birth certificate from Irembo. With our child known, we will now be able to access financial benefits to take good care of her,” Claudine is quoted as saying.

Rwanda has in the past couple of years been building a robust digital identity ecosystem that seeks to make service delivery and access to certain government services much easier for its citizens.

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