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Zambia, Namibia, Tanzania upgrade digital ID systems in concert with development partners

Zambia, Namibia, Tanzania upgrade digital ID systems in concert with development partners
 

Zambia has carried out a major first step in its transition towards a modern legal and digital identity system, by digitizing the records of roughly 7 million people. The milestone comes amid a series of engagements by African governments with identity systems at various stages of development with international development partners to strengthen their digital public infrastructure (DPI) and ID systems. Moves in Namibia and Tanzania, along with Zambia, have been revealed just as ID4Africa’s annual in-person event for 2024 kicks off, with a focus on DPI.

A LinkedIn post by Tariq Malik, who is acting as senior technical advisor for the World Bank, notes that Zambia managed to digitize the records for 81 percent of its legacy, paper ID cards in just three months. This initiative also provides a foundational database that can be used as Zambia upgrades its credentials, Malik told Biometric Update. The plan is to complete the digitization process by July.

“Digitization of legacy identity data decreases time and cost for enrollment, makes identity verification with legacy data easier and enables savings opportunities,” Malik wrote on LinkedIn. “It makes upgraded #biometric database of citizens robust.”

Zambia’s government has already collected biometric records for 1.3 million people, according to Malik. Registration efforts for the national digital ID continue, despite disastrous drought that temporarily delayed it.

Malik is also acting as a senior advisor for the United Nations Development Programme on the governance side. In that capacity, he was in Namibia last week for a collaborative assessment over a five-day period.

Digital identity to digital services

While far ahead of Zambia on its digital ID journey, Namibia is seeking to further build up its DPI and expand the use of its national ID to more sectors.

“Legal identity is a driver of inclusive development, enabling citizens to fully participate in economic and societal activities, including access to financial services vital for economic mobility,” Ministry of Home Affairs Executive Director Etienne Maritz told The Namibian.

The country is also holding a national registration campaign for government-issued ID documents, which has already resulted in documents being issued to 38,000 people since February.

Meanwhile, Tanzania is integrating its digital ID and CRVS systems to improve the systems’ governance. The integration has a technical aspect, but also involves the government bodies responsible for each being merged, Malik says.

The largest ID conference in the global south, if not the whole world, ID4Africa’s AGM, is on this week in Cape Town, South Africa, with the theme: “Digital Identity as DPI: Fostering Trust, Inclusion & Adoption.”

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