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Rwanda initiates legislative digital ID amendment to include stateless persons, children

Rwanda initiates legislative digital ID amendment to include stateless persons, children

Stateless persons as well as newborns in Rwanda will be among those able to have a digital identity card if a legislative amendment proposed by the country’s government comes to fruition.

The proposal to amend the 2008 law on the registration of persons and the issuance of the national ID card will allow for the creation of the Rwanda Single Digital ID system (SDID).

The digital ID will come in two versions, authorities say, namely a physical card which will have a QR code containing biometric data, and an unprinted version that uses biometrics to access the ID. The ID number assigned to children will be part of their birth registration data which can be revised till the child attains the legal age to carry a national ID, officials say.

Making the proposal to members of parliament on 20 April, the Minister of ICT, Paula Ingabire, emphasized the importance of the digital ID system as a propeller of social and economic progress, KT Press reports.

The Minister said the system is part of efforts by the government in Kigali to simplify access to public services and drive the digital economy, while easing the social living conditions of citizens.

The Rwanda digital ID scheme is a project to be funded to the tune of US$40 million by the World Bank, and Ingabire says it will be executed within a period of three years after the legislative framework has been put in place.

That’s why the government hopes the legislative amendment, which was suggested following feasibility studies by an African Development Bank-funded initiative, can be sorted out as soon as possible, the outlet notes.

Authorities say the draft legislation was put together drawing inspiration from best practices in digital ID systems in countries like Canada, Estonia, Singapore, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

The upcoming system, the Minister adds, will help close the gaps currenting existing in the country’s legacy ID architecture. Staff are being trained to adapt to the new ID system, which seeks to also harmonize the population register database.

These plans come as Rwanda has already made gains in decentralizing birth registration to increase the rate of birth certificate issuance, a credential required for issuing national ID cards.

Several other countries have also recently moved to prioritize the registration of newborns and stateless people.

Ghana’s Vice President, Mahamudu Bawumia, while mentioning the strides of the Ghana digital ID card during a recent event at Harvard University, announced that the country also plans to start issuing digital ID cards to children from June.

Early this year, Vietnam also proposed issuing chip-based ID cards to children under the age of six.

On the issue of stateless persons, Kenya recently began a process to issue legal ID to members of the Pemba community, descendants of a group of people who settled in the country in the 1930s. The Pembas have lived for decades without legal ID in Kenya.

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