African ministers agree to up their game in efforts to close identity gap on the continent

By Economic Commission For Africa (ECA)
Africa African ministers agree to up their game in efforts to close identity gap on the continent
OCT 20, 2019 LISTEN

Lusaka, Zambia, October 18, 2019 (ECA) - The Fifth Conference of African Ministers Responsible for Civil Registration ended in Lusaka, Zambia, Friday with member States agreeing to scale-up efforts to address the huge identity gap that exists on the continent.

The ministers urged their governments to avail more financial resources to help them revamp and modernize the continent’s CRVS and ID managements systems to ensure they leave no one behind.

Partners were also called on to scale-up financial assistance to the Africa Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS) which is leading the continent’s efforts to create modern and comprehensive CRVS systems.

In what they have dubbed the Lusaka Declaration, the ministers urged the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC) to support countries in harmonizing legislations governing civil registration and identity management, including interoperability of systems by using appropriate information and communication technology assets.

The ECA was further asked to scale-up efforts in helping reduce invisibility in Africa by increasing the number of current pilot countries participating in the UN Legal Identity Agenda so all countries can benefit from the holistic approach to CRVS in the shortest time possible.

The ministers recognized that integrated civil registration and identification systems were essential for promoting good governance, creating inclusive societies, protecting human rights, ensuring the effective and efficient delivery of public services, and tackling inequality; as well as providing individuals with essential legal documents to secure basic human and civil rights such as the right to a name, identity and nationality, and access to health care, education, employment, and social protection.

The conference also called on member States to strengthen the collaboration between national statistical offices, health, and legal identity management.

The ministers encouraged African countries to strengthen investment in digitization ‘to facilitate interoperability between identity management systems for refugees and the national civil registration and vital statistics systems, within a framework of a strong data protection policy, as well as take steps to ensure the widespread recognition of identity documents issued to persons in need of international protection’

Members States should frequently publish quality vital statistics from the civil registration records of vital events, including causes of deaths to guide policy organs in developing strategies for the improvement of CRVS systems, and in support of Africa’s Agenda 2063, Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the International Conference on Population and Development.

The AUC and Africa CDC were urged to provide guidance and support to member States to mobilise resources for strengthening mortality surveillance systems and CRVS.

The ECA and the AUC were also encouraged to continue working with member States on the implementation of existing programmes and strategies as the continent pushes to end the scandal of invisibility by creating modern and comprehensive CRVS systems.

The conference urged the AUC, ECA, African Development Bank (AfDB), CRVS Core Group and their partners ‘to support AU Member States to set up sustained capacity-building systems at all levels to improve the production and dissemination of vital statistics from civil registration systems’.

The main objective of the conference was to provide strategic and policy guidance to member States on pathways towards holistic, innovative and integrated CRVS and digital identity management systems in order to close the identity gap in Africa and in the process contribute to the implementation of Agendas 2063 and 2030, in particular, SDG target 16.9.

In closing Zambia’s Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo, the AUC Deputy Chair Thomas Kwesi and ECA’s representative, Oliver Chinganya, the Director of Statistics, all hailed Africa’s total commitment to modern CRVS systems and legal identity for all on the continent.

Africa is estimated to have over 550 million people without legal identity, the majority of them being women and children.

Ministers responsible for Civil Registration, Identity Management, Health, and Information and Technology attended the conference as well as Registrars General, Directors General of National Statistical Offices, ICT experts, e-government, civil society organisations and non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies, international development partners, and journalists.

The theme of the conference was “Innovative Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System: Foundation for Legal Identity Management.”

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