Ethiopia-UN ECA-Technologies

ECA to establish legal digital identities in Africa

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Omidyar Network have announced a partnership to establish legal digital identities in Africa.

The partnership will go towards ECA’s support to the African Union Commission Digital Identity Platform for Africa.

“An estimated 500 million people in Africa have no official ID, and in many ways, the lack of robust identification, which is underpinned by a poor Civil Registration and Vital Statistics system on the continent has contributed to marginalization and exclusion of many,” said ECA’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe.

She was speaking at a high-level breakfast event, themed: Digital ID for the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, which discussed opportunities, risks and lessons for Digital Identity in the African market.

The opportunities are immense. Songwe has often made the case for Digital ID for Africa, stating that technology-enabled business platforms that create value by facilitating exchanges via business to business (B2b) platforms could represent $10 trillion in socio-economic value creation between 2016 to 2025 globally.

“A Good Digital ID Platform for Africa would ensure that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), which constitute 80% of African enterprises benefit from this opportunity.”

She adds that Digital ID is an important enabler for access to social and political services, as well as financial and economic inclusion.

“It would go a long way towards preventing vote rigging in elections, reducing leaks in the management of government payroll as well as social intervention programmes and improving access of the poor, to financial services.”

Magdi Amin, Investment Partner at Omidyar Network, underscored that trade, technology, and connectivity are interconnected goals.

“Just as the AfCFTA will connect Africa through trade, Africa now seeks to connect markets, services, and people through technology; the goal is that residents of Senegal and Chad will be able to transact with residents of Zambia and Mauritius without friction, with trust, and without requiring that they meet physically. This will create an African Digital Common Market,” he said.


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