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ID4Africa Annual Meeting is back in its 3rd Edition

15 February 2017

Dr. Joseph J. Atick, Executive Chairman explains why ID4Africa is bigger, better and more pertinent than ever. ID4Africa may be a young movement, but it has already founded a community by capturing the minds and hearts of a large group of people passionate about facing the identification challenges to build a more equitable Africa.

In developed nations, people routinely assert their identities dozens of times a day. They do it effortlessly through many different means and for many different purposes; they do it so much so, that asserting one’s identity has blended into the fabric of habitual actions that people do in a modern society.

Unfortunately, this is still far from being the case for sub-Saharan Africa with its billion identities, where identification continues to be a real chore and a daily challenge for ordinary people and for the institutions that are supposed to deliver services to them. In many ways, lack of robust identification on the Continent has contributed to marginalization and exclusion; people often opt not to participate in the institutions of their state, because of the effort of proving who they are. This is the nightmare scenario for the development agenda whose fundamental tenants are built on inclusiveness for all, and which looks to spread the fruits of development across all sectors of society. This was the motivation for the founding of ID4Africa.

ID4Africa may be a young movement, but it has already founded a community by capturing the minds and hearts of a large group of people passionate about facing the identification challenges to build a more equitable Africa. These are people that believe legal identity for all must be assured within the frameworks of human rights and dignity as delineated by the various pronunciations of the United Nations, including the latest Sustainable Development Goal SDG 16.9 which calls for providing legal identity including birth registration for all by 2030.

The movement, launched in 2014, held its inaugural meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2015; it was followed by a milestone event in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016 that established the agenda for the next few years. The Kigali meeting reunited over 600 individuals representing three main groups of stakeholders: the African governments, the international organizations, and the technology and solution providers. The Kigali meeting was remarkable, not just because attendance doubled in the one year since inauguration, but because of the passion and intensity that were palpable throughout the meeting. The strength and sustainability of the movement was clear to anyone that attended that meeting; it was apparent that this was a force to be reckoned with.

In the aftermath of the Kigali meeting many more African institutions became active within the movement through the various channels of engagement created for them. For example, they nominated representatives to become ID4Africa Ambassadors; the movement has now appointed Ambassadors in 22 African countries, representing over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa in population. The Ambassadors, one per country, are civil servants that act as liaisons between ID4Africa and their country’s identity institutions. They ensure that their country’s issues are represented in the movement’s agenda and at the Annual Meeting.

The African government institutions and their Ambassadors also participated heavily in shaping the agenda for the 3rd edition of the Annual Meeting, which will take place April 26-28, 2017 in Windhoek Namibia. They diligently worked to constitute official national delegations to that meeting and to influence the agenda. As of date, 41 African Nations are sending sizeable delegations, representing the diverse stakeholders in their countries.

The Namibia event is expected to draw over 800 participants who will benefit from a full and groundbreaking three-day program designed to respond to what the 2nd edition identified as priorities. It will be accompanied by one of the largest identity and biometrics expositions in the world where over 90 international leading companies will exhibit and demonstrate their latest capabilities in identity technologies and solutions, all adapted for Africa.

The priorities for dialogue in the 3rd edition include applications of identification systems to reinforce democracy, support healthcare, build inclusive financial platforms and institutions, reinforce Civil registration and e-government initiatives and combat identity fraud and enhance security. In addition, focus this year will be on cross border and regional identity, where the World Bank, ECOWAS, African Union Commission, IOM among others, including leading representatives of the industry, will address the importance of developing identity schemes that interoperate among African nations to facilitate free movement and economic exchange.

The overall objective of the third meeting remains consistent with the tactical objectives of the movement: to help governments and development organizations understand the social and economic impact of identity systems, assess the current state of affairs of the identity ecosystems in Africa, identify opportunities for engagement and collaboration and transfer the experiences of others and build capacity, all while getting exposure to the latest industrial capabilities presented by the world technology and solution leaders. 

One thing is certain, this will be another milestone event. If you intend to attend, plan to be excited, elated and exhausted by the end of the three intense days surrounded by people that are passionate about making a difference in Africa and not just about making a market.

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