There are critical legal identification
gaps in Africa that could lead to lopsided development policies and drive down
economic growth, the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa has
“Without knowing the
numbers and characteristics of the residents of a country, governments cannot
plan neither can they craft adequate policies or monitor progress. This steers
us further away from achieving our human development commitments as set out by
the Africa Agenda 2063 and the 2030 sustainable development agenda,” Vera Songwe,
the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa said.
Songwe also said that the
paper-based civil registration is not enough and it is vulnerable to
manipulation and loss than digital registrations methods. In addition, manual
registrations force citizens to cover great distances to get government services.
“This manual nature of
civil registration databases in many countries limits their ability to support
other important government functions, therefore, contributing to their
under-resourcing and underutilization by governments,” she said.
According to a World Bank
report, The State of Identification Systems
in Africa many countries in Africa lack robust citizen registration models
and lack laws to address the gap.
“In most countries,
accessibility of identity systems and services is low; only a few countries
have achieved substantial coverage in both civil registration and
identification,” the World Bank observed.
“A number of persistent
barriers have limited accessibility and coverage, including high direct and
(particularly) indirect costs to users, complex legal and administrative
requirements, paper-based records systems that are vulnerable to damage,
geographic constraints including difficult terrain and sparse populations, and
a lack of demand from users,” the bank added.
It recommended that countries should, harmonize and modernize identity systems by empowering national identity coordinating agencies or authorities, adopting a unified approach to identity management, modernizing civil registries, and planning for international interoperability.
Feature Image Courtesy: Voice of America
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