African Ministers to discuss innovative ways to close identity gap on the continent
All is set for the Fifth Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration (COM5) which takes place from 14 to 18 October 2019 in Lusaka, Zambia.
The conference aims to provide strategic and policy guidance on pathways towards holistic, innovative and integrated civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) and digital identity management systems to help close the identity gap in Africa where more than 500 million people have no legal identity.
The conference will include discussions on new and emerging initiatives: the United Nations Legal Identity Agenda and the digital identity initiative in Africa, both of which rely on a functioning and efficient CRVS system, according to ECA release.
It said the Ministers will seek to chart the way forward by identifying key challenges in the implementation of the Africa Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS) at the regional and national levels and proposing solutions.
Mr. Oliver Chinganya, Director of the African Statistics Centre at the Economic Commission for Africa said “It is important that as a continent we modernize and harmonize civil registration and digital identity systems, which are foundational to legal identity ecosystems. Vital statistics systems that enable member States to monitor progress towards the sustainable development goals and Agenda 2063 should be strengthened. The conference will allow us to take stock and chart the way forward.”
“We need to make sure that we get everyone in the picture. The ECA, working with its partners, is fully committed to supporting our member States to ensure we use innovation and technological solutions to help establish well-functioning CRVS systems to achieve universal coverage and complete the registration of four vital events in the life of a person – birth, death, marriages and even divorce.”
It is expected that the conference will result in strong support and commitment from countries and development partners, including provision of adequate funding and technical support at the regional and country levels, for the continuous strengthening of CRVS systems as the foundation for robust and sustainable legal identity systems.
Ministers are expected to reach an agreement on the strategic direction for a comprehensive legal framework, adopting technological innovations, improving interoperability and strengthening institutional capacity and coordination across ministries and agencies for the integrated improvement of CRVS and identity management systems.
Member States are also expected to declare their commitment to ensure integrated CRVS and digital identity management systems reach their full potential in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want which are both rooted in universal rights and inclusive development and driven by the key principle of “leaving no one behind”.
The conference is being organized by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and Government of the Zambia. The Conference is also supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Health Organization (WHO), Plan International, the Africa Symposium on Statistical Development (ASSD) and other partners.
By Lalas M. Awumah