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ID4Africa celebrates identity strides as 10th AGM kicks off with record attendance

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ID4Africa celebrates identity strides as 10th AGM kicks off with record attendance

The 2024 Annual General Assembly (AGM) of ID4Africa, the identity movement which is now easily the largest on the continent, is underway in Cape Town, South Africa, with Executive Chairman Dr. Joseph Atick outlining the movement’s achievements as well as future perspectives in pushing ahead the legal and digital identity discourse.

This year’s AGM, which has a record attendance of more than 2,000 delegates from over 100 countries, marks the 10th anniversary of the movement which was founded in 2014. The ID4Africa AGM, however, had its humble beginnings a year later in 2015 with the inaugural edition hosted by Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam. Biometric Update‘s extensive on-site coverage began the following year in Kigali, Rwanda.

A decade of progress on many fronts

In his keynote address at the start of this year’s anniversary event, Atick maintained a modest posture, declining to be emphatic that there are humongous achievements to celebrate after ten years. However, he said he was “filled with optimism for the next chapter of our journey.”

“We can reflect on a decade of progress on multiple fronts, but I don’t think ten years is the right amount of time to celebrate achievements,” he said.

That notwithstanding, Atick presented ID4Africa’s works over the last decade in brief, noting that since the inaugural edition of the AGM, the event, which is now a flagship one in the domain, has continued to attract robust interest from stakeholders across the board, and has been what he called “an intense journey of knowledge sharing and collaboration.”

The movement has grown in various perspectives, he said, explaining that it has also increasingly seen the active participation of government decision makers, non-governmental organizations and partners as well as other relevant stakeholders in the legal and digital identity universe. He lauded the growing “sectoral collaboration and diversity” ID4Africa has enjoyed, highlighting the role it has also played in supporting the progress of a plethora of identity initiatives on the continent.

Apart from the AGMs, ID4Africa has also made its mark through various programs aimed at fostering legal identity efforts across the continent such as the Ambassadors program, which Atick said is a rallying ground for “dedicated individuals” who are making fabulous contributions to shaping the movement’s identity-focussed agenda. He also spoke about their involvement in the process of setting up the proposed African digital CRVS Shared Asset (ACSA) which will be discussed later in a workshop at the meeting.

In a nutshell, Atick expressed immense gratitude to all stakeholders including partners, development organizations, the staff of the ID4Africa secretariat, as well as attendees (both old and new), and across all sectors, who have made inexorable efforts in ensuring that legal identity becomes a common currency in Africa, sooner than later. Among the new attendees this year are 70 lawmakers from 20 countries, 175 representatives of civil society organizations, as well as 30 data protection and privacy practitioners.

‘Empowering every voice, every choice’

Atick underlined the fact that after ten years, the real deal is just beginning for ID4Africa and the task ahead to ensure responsible and expansive deployment of legal and digital identity ecosystems remains huge. He also explained that going forward, ID4Africa will operate on the principle of “empowering every voice, every choice,” which means that while everyone must be involved in the ongoing journey about digital identity, countries must be allowed to make their choices without any interference or undue influence whatsoever from development and donor organizations.

“The stakes are high, so is our determination. So, let us all seize the opportunity to do our part,” he appealed.

A representative of the South African Minister of Home Affairs also spoke during the opening plenary, expressing immeasurable gratitude to ID4Africa for supporting and inspiring the country on its path towards an impactful digital identity ecosystem. He shared with the audience a synopsis of how the rainbow nation is advancing with its digital transformation pursuits, with digital ID being the driver.

Information-packed plenaries

The AGM in Cape Town runs from today May 21 to Friday May 24. It will feature several information-packed plenary sessions with an enticing diversity of panelists and discussants, and a medley of topics. There are also biometrics and technology exhibitions ongoing at the solutions arena with all the major industry players in attendance, as well as workshop slated for the final day of business. It promises to be an action-packed week ahead in the Cape Town, known fondly as the Mother City.

On this 10th anniversary, it may be worthwhile to recall that ID4Africa has held its AGMs in every other year since 2015, except in 2020 and 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic which disrupted the global order.

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