Digital Identity in Mozambique: Case Study Conducted as Part of a Ten-country Exploration of Socio-digital ID Systems in Parts of Africa

This study assesses the current stage of implementation of initiatives related to digital identity in Mozambique. It forms part of the Research ICT Africa project, in partnership with the Centre for Internet and Society, to assess the stage of digital identity in Africa, through comparative studies from 10 countries. The study was carried out based on the aspects addressed in the Evaluation Framework developed by the Centre for Internet and Society, which provides for the analysis of three distinct areas: rule of law tests, rights-based tests and risk-based tests. The methodology included a review of the existing bibliography in Mozambique related to the digital identification of citizens and other associated digital initiatives; interviews with relevant institutions and/or personalities who work or have worked in the area to understand both the current situation and the perspectives and challenges that lie ahead; and the application of the evaluation framework. During the research, it was found that although existing legislation includes references to a national integrated digital identification system, in practice different sectors have moved ahead with independent digital systems to meet sectoral needs, and there is limited coordination between them. For example, separate systems exist for the registration of births, the issuing of adult identity cards, the issuing of passports and social security. Of the researched software, the Electronic System of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics was selected for the purposes of this study as it is a system that is already in operation at national level and which is intended to be the starting point for a future foundational system of digital identity in Mozambique. The Electronic System of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics is implemented by the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs through the National Directorate of Registries and Notaries and aims to register all the facts that form part of citizens’ lives, with emphasis on the issue of birth and death certificates. Other aspects are still to be added as the system develops. The study takes into account the Mozambican social, demographic and geographic context, which offers many challenges to the nationwide implementation of digital systems. A challenge of particular interest is physical internet access and the respective costs, as 65% of the population lives and works in rural areas. These findings mean that when responding to the questions raised by the Evaluation Framework, the study is not analysing a single foundational system that is already in place, but uses the aims and functioning of the Electronic System of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics as its basis. It has therefore not been possible to provide a full response to questions that are predicated on the current existence of a foundational system. The conclusions and recommendations thus focus on the steps that need to be taken to ensure the establishment of a functional digital ID system in the context of Mozambique’s reality and perspective, and in accordance with the study’s findings concerning legislation, regulation and policy.