Civil Registration Conference to Benefit African Nations Seeking to Address 'Scandal of Invisibility'

15 October 2019

Lusaka — African countries are expected to continue strengthening their civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems as a foundation for robust and sustainable legal identity systems on the continent following the ongoing fifth conference of African ministers responsible for civil registration.

This was said Tuesday by Zambia's Home Affairs Minister, Stephen Kampyongo, during a ministerial media briefing on the conference that opened in Lusaka, Zambia, Monday.

The conference is a standing regional forum of the African Union which was set up to provide policy directions for the transformation and accelerated improvement of civil registration and vital statistics systems in Africa.

The ministers conference is preceded by a three-day expert meeting that focuses on technical deliberations of various aspects of CRVS in Africa, culminating in draft resolutions and recommendations that will be discussed in the ministerial forum.

Mr. Kampyongo said some African countries had made progress in their institutional capacities to deliver legal identity but added more needed to be done to address the continent's 'scandal of invisibility' where half of the continent's children are not registered at birth.

At least 1.5 billion people lack proof of legal identity the world over. Half of them are in Africa, exposing them to vulnerabilities, including lack of access to services.

"This entails formulating and implementing appropriate policies and having guiding principles focused on our aspirations according to the sustainable development goals and Africa's Agenda 2063," Mr. Kampyongo said, adding African ministers were expected to support interventions that seek to integrate CRVS and digital identity management systems.

On advances made so far, the Minister said; "This progress includes ensuring that all member States have country owned action plans which are informed by comprehensive assessments of their CRVS systems, as part of the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems."

The theme for this year's conference is; "Innovative Civil Registration and Vital Statistics System: Foundation for Legal Identity Management".

"This theme is timely for all African countries including Zambia. This is so because all African countries are striving to achieve the aspirations of sustainable development goal target 16.9 which seeks to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration by 2030," said Mr. Kampyongo.

The main objectives of the conference are to:

- identify key challenges in the implementation of the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics at regional and national levels.

- reaffirm the commitment of governments and development partners to CRVS and identity management through a holistic approach that strengthens institutional mechanisms for accelerated improvement of civil registration, vital statistics and identity management systems on the continent; and

- to review and share best practices from African countries on CRVS and identity management system digitization processes, using appropriate information technology infrastructure and improving innovative business processes, to ensure that universal CRVS systems are interoperable with national identity management and various government functions.

"As a country we are looking forward to learning best practices on the optimal use of technology in enhancing CRVS systems especially that Zambia is working towards implementing an integrated national registration information system - a platform which will use a unique identifier from birth to death," the Home Affairs Minister said.

Zambia's Health Minister, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, said the nation was prioritizing CRVS and collection of reliable and accurate data to help the country in mapping out its health policies.

The conference will be attended by Ministers responsible for civil registration, national identity, health, ICT and e-governance from all AU member States, heads of civil registration, heads of national identity, heads of national statistics, and several developmental partners among other actors in Africa's CRVS space.

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