African leaders have a great vision of building an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent that is driven and managed by its own citizens, and represents a dynamic force in the international arena, Zambia’s Vice President Inonge Mutukwa Wina said Thursday.
But the vision can only be realized if the continent’s citizens were all visible and known to the authorities for planning purposes, with timely and accurate statistics always readily available, Ms. Wina said in opening remarks to the fifth Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil registration in Lusaka.
“If you truly understand civil registration, the reality is that we cannot achieve this great African vision without counting and recording our citizens,” she said.
“A fully functioning CRVS system with universal birth, marriage and death registration is the foundation of a comprehensive, robust and sustainable legal identity system.”
The VP lauded African leaders for the initiative to build comprehensive and robust CRVS systems following the declaration of the decade for repositioning CRVS in Africa’s continental, regional and national development agenda.
She said the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development recognized that innovative and sustainable CRVS systems, integrated with health and national identity management, were powerful drivers for more inclusive economies.
“We should applaud ourselves for taking bold steps as African member states in recognizing the central role CRVS play in Africa’s development agenda,” said the VP, adding this helps the continent to have information to use in responding and contributing to solving its development challenges.
Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, earlier challenged Ms. Wina to champion the legal identity cause on the continent to bridge the identity gap, especially for the over 250 million invisible African women and others seeking economic empowerment.
“Identity is recognition, respect and dignity. If we can imagine that on our continent we have 550 million people without that recognition that is needed to exist as legitimate members of society, then as a society we have a people,” she said.
“Madame Vice President, we will make this event memorable and historical as important decisions and resolutions will be made here, which will take civil registration and identity management to greater heights.”
For his part, the African Union Commission’s Deputy Chairperson, Thomas Kwesi said the theme of the conference; “Innovative Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System: Foundation for Legal Identity Management” was timely as ensuring legal identity would contribute to the implementation of major continental initiatives including the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Protocol on Free Movement of People, the African Passport and the Single African Air Transport market.
The realization of Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 for sustainable development required that every vital event is registered and relevant statistics are collected, compiled, produced and disseminated in a regular and continuous manner to guide policy and planning, to inform decisions, enable all stakeholders to track progress and make the necessary adjustments to ensure transparency and mutual accountability, he said.
African Development Bank’s Statistics Director, Charles Lufumpa, said although progress had been made in efforts to revamp CRVS systems in Africa, more still needed to be done. He said CRVS was crucial for important decision making for policy, informing SDGs, Agenda 2063 and the Bank’s High 5s agenda.
“While significant progress has been made, work still needs to be done as most of our CRVS systems remain weak,” Mr. Lufumpa said, adding the bank continuously advocated for improved CRVS systems both in terms of coverage and quality through promoting the use of ICT, human capital development, south-south cooperation and coordination.
The conference ends Friday.