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FEATURE STORY

A Toolkit for Making Everyone Count in Sub-Saharan Africa

October 9, 2014

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Story Highlights
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, as many as 55 percent of people have no official identification record.
  • Driven by the rapid growth of mobile phone ownership, Digital ID helps meet the needs of previously unreached isolated and impoverished populations
  • Through client engagement and policy advice, and publication of best practices and guides like the Digital Identity Toolkit, the World Bank Group is helping countries develop robust and secure Digital ID systems.

Digital identity (Digital ID) is a catalyst for development and progress, particularly for low- and middle- income countries. According to a recent World Bank Group publication titled Digital Identity Toolkit: A Guide for Stakeholders in Africa, Digital ID is not only a key enabler for service delivery to the poorest, but also helps grow a country’s economy and social development.

In a high-level event last year, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim characterized India’s digital IDs as a poverty-killer and a game-changer. 

Download the Toolkit:

A government’s ability to deliver important services to its people depends on its ability to uniquely identify them. An official identity is central to everything from health care and voting to social welfare and transport. It’s vital to private enterprise as well, as financial institutions require client verification before disbursing a loan or making transfers. But around the world, official identification remains an elusive goal: for example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, as many as 55 percent of people have no official identification record. This lack of identification severely hampers access to basic services including economic development, education, health and social welfare.

As illustrated in the Toolkit, Digital ID is a proven solution in a number of countries, including India, Estonia and Moldova.  It helps target many of the challenges surrounding official identification, giving government and business the ability to deliver services electronically, boosting efficiency and driving innovation. Driven by the rapid growth of mobile phone ownership (which has reached 6.5 billion users globally), Digital ID helps meet the needs of isolated and impoverished populations that were previously unreached by critical social services.

“Digital ID provides countries a cross-sector platform that allows ‘leapfrogging’ to more efficient and modern systems, enhancing service delivery, which is transformational for countries with weak or non-existent national identification systems,” said Randeep Sudan, Information and Communication Technology Practice Manager for the World Bank.

National identification systems can use electronic and biometric technology to strengthen social welfare systems, healthcare, financial services and transport, as well as civil registration and vital statistics systems, including birth registration. Furthermore, government does not have to bear the costs of such systems alone: potential public-private partnerships can provide sustainability and scalability, bolster innovation and even produce revenue streams.

TheToolkit provides a range of technical examples, policy considerations and practical advice for implementing Digital ID systems, including:

  • Registration, issuance and use
  • Enrollment and certification
  • Authentication and updates
  • Institutional framework and governance
  • Trust, privacy and security frameworks

Through client engagement and policy advice, and publication of best practices and guides, such as this Toolkit, the World Bank Group is helping countries develop robust and secure Digital ID systems.  Leadership, governance and capacity are important elements for setting up Digital ID platforms; as a result, we help clients connect to best practices and solutions, as well as providing a set of guidelines for policymakers to consider as they embark on the journey of modernizing their countries’ technology and processes.

TheToolkit gives clients and other stakeholders a set of guidelines to help them plan the modernization of their countries’ identity infrastructure. It outlines the terminology, key concepts and building blocks for successful Digital ID systems, focusing not just on technology, but equally on the leadership needed for success.

"We strongly support Digital ID agenda as it addresses the new demands of the modern society: identification has to be portable, easily accessible online, interoperable and transactional, in addition to being secure," said Cecile Pot, Advisor to the French Executive Director at the World Bank. The Government of France helped finance the creation and publication of the Toolkit.

"Digital ID contributes to the World Bank Group's multi-sectoral effort on Identification for Development (ID4D), and is a strong pillar of this global agenda," said Mariana Dahan, ID4D Working Group Coordinator.

​Through the dissemination of guides including the Toolkit, the World Bank Group helps give people a chance to better communicate and be recognized by their government, while also giving governments the opportunity to listen and improve the lives of their citizens. 



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