The Fifth Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration opened in Lusaka, Zambia, Monday with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and its key partners, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Developing Bank (AfDB) stressing the importance for the continent to create a modern and comprehensive civil registration and vital statistic system (CRVS).
The partners reiterated their commitment to continue supporting African countries’ efforts to modernize their CRVS systems so every person on the continent is visible.
Mr. Oliver Chinganya, Director of the African Statistics Centre at the ECA, said it was not right that half of Africa’s population is not registered at birth. This, he said, rendered most of the continent’s poor unseen, uncounted and excluded, affecting their ability to enjoy universal rights.
Mr. Chinganya said the call by the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, to reduce the identity gap by 300 million by 2025, was a mammoth but achievable task if the continent addressed the challenges of its registration systems. More than 1.1 billion people in the world have no legal identity.
The Director assured participants of the ‘ECA’s commitment to strengthen the CRVS and ID management processes in member States as well as in ensuring that no one is left behind, and we achieve the aspirations of agenda 2063, the Africa We Want and the 2030 Development Agenda’.
He said digital ID can provide enormous benefits for the continent if fully embraced.
Mr. Chinganya lauded the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statics (APAI-CRVS) adding its Secretariat stood ready to provide technical support the member States. The APAI-CRVS is a joint project developed by the ECA, the AUC and the AfDB.
“Integrated and interoperable civil registration and national ID management systems form foundational legal identity necessary for proof of multiple functional identity registers. So, our civil registration systems should be accessible, inclusive and integrative.”
For his part, the AUC’s Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Mr. Victor Harrison, said civil registration data was essential for a functional and people-centred integration process that aims to improve well-being, promote job creation, and market expansion through trade, free movement and labour mobility.
He said the lack of formal and robust identification and poor CRVS on the continent has contributed to marginalization and exclusion of many citizens.
“In response to that, AUC in collaboration with UNECA, AfDB, RECS, World Bank and other partners have developed a comprehensive Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa to harness the full benefits of digital transformation to ensure that universal legal identity as part of the civil registration system is achieved by 2030,” the Commissioner said.
Mr. Charles Lufumpa, Acting Chief Economic and Vice President, and Director of Statistics at the AfDB, said Africa has made progress in revitalizing its CRVS systems in the past decade.
But, he added, more still needs to be done to ensure the continent develops viable ideas and solutions that can address significant challenges that remain, including lack of adequately skilled human resources.
“It is high time we upscale our efforts regarding modernization and digitilisation. Lingering challenges in the areas of infrastructure, use of technology, legal and regulatory frameworks, coordination and resources, have left CRVS systems weak in most part of the continent,” said Mr. Lufumpa.
He reiterated the Bank’s commitment to CRVS issues on the continent.