(Ecofin Agency) - Without a clear identity, a citizen cannot access any service (education, health, competitions, etc.). In the rapidly emerging digital world, Tunde Fafunwa, Senior Advisor of the UNECA Digital Center of Excellence, fears that the lack of digital identity will further widen the digital divide in Africa.
In an interview last week with covid19africawatch.org, an initiative of the economic think tank Milken Institute, he highlights the need to accelerate the digital identification of populations.
“Now, the move towards a cashless society to reduce physical interaction is gaining traction: many locations are closed or restricted in terms of access, so virtual transactions –online digital transactions – become the key way to get information, services, and to perform financial transactions. And in many cases, the only way to do that is with some kind of digital identification. So a digital ID is even more important now than ever,” he said.
On a continent where an estimated 500 million people do not have a basic identity document with which to conduct official transactions, Tunde Fafunwa urged African authorities to take action. “Malawi has done that, where they registered almost 18 million citizens over several months. So it can be done quickly and effectively where there’s a political will to do so,” the UNECA expert explained.