Digital ID Dispatches from Africa

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Digital ID Dispatches from Africa

With the African Union Commission reportedly working towards the adoption of a new policy framework on digital ID this year, examining how socio-technical systems of identification are currently deployed and used on the continent, and with what potential consequences, is important. To help provide a better understanding of the state of digital ID on the continent, Research ICT Africa (RIA) and the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) recently partnered to investigate the nature, development and potential impacts of digital ID processes in 10 African countries.

With support from the Omidyar Network, RIA and CIS worked closely with local partners in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe to extract a snapshot of the state of digital ID in the countries selected, using a comprehensive evaluation framework specifically designed for assessing digital ID.

In this new thematic series, Africa’s Digital ID Dispatches, a selection of project findings are summarised through guest contributions from country partners. The Africa Portal is a publishing partner for the series.


Introducing the 'Digital ID Dispatches from Africa' series

In the first instalment of this series, Research ICT Africa's doctoral fellow Anri van der Spuy looks at why digital IDs matter in Africa, and why we need to continue examining them and their impacts on our increasingly datafied societies.

Anri van der Spuy


Digital ID 101: Making sense of key terminology

In the second instalment of this series, Research ICT Africa researcher Kristophina Shilongo unpacks what digital IDs mean in uniquely African contexts.

Kristophina Shilongo


Testing 1-2-3: An evaluation framework for digital ID with lessons from India's Aadhaar system

In the third instalment of this series, researchers from the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) outline the evaluation framework CIS developed for digital ID, and assess how India's Aadhaar system measures up against it.

Yesha Tshering Paul

Shruti Trikanad


Zimbabwe's Big Brother technology is a threat to digital rights

In the fourth instalment of this series, Nhlanhla Ngwenya reflects on three developments that he believes provide an indication of how Zimbabwe is approaching digital ID.

Nhlanhla Ngwenya


Are digital IDs in Uganda a tool for inclusion or exclusion?

In the fifth instalment of this series, Neema Iyer and Bonnita Nyamwire from the civic tech organisation Pollicy dig into exclusion risks in the Ugandan context.

Neema Iyer

Nyamwire Bonnita


Nigeria: There can be no digital identity (ID) without digital security

In the sixth instalment of this series, Babatunde Okunoye, fellow at the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University, examines the importance of (digital) security for safeguarding citizens’ and the public sector’s data in digital ID programmes.

Babatunde Okunoye


Tanzania: NIDA IDs for civic services, or not?

In the seventh instalment of this series, Patricia Boshe, co-director of the African Law and Technology Institute (AFRILTI), warns that the lack of a data protection framework in Tanzania may introduce risks of exclusion from essential public services, among other risks.

Patricia Boshe


Kenya: Risks in transforming the national identification system to a digital ID system

In the eighth instalment of the series, Grace Mutung'u discusses Kenya's digital ID scheme, Huduma Namba, and the challenges of access and inclusion for marginalised communities. She questions whether it is genuinely revolutionising government services.

Grace Mutung'u


Series wrap: Assessing socio-digital identity ecosystems in Africa

This blog post assesses the risk and reward of digital identity ecosystems. It marks the end of the series, which investigated, mapped and reported on the state of digital identity ecosystems in 10 African countries.

Anri van der Spuy

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