June 17

Analysis: On the Road to Digital-ID Success in Africa: Leveraging Global Trends

By Yiannis Theodorou

From accessing mobile money to public-health services and promoting financial inclusion, digital-identity (ID) systems can provide individuals with life-enhancing services and benefits while becoming active participants in a digital economy. Despite this, half of the estimated billion people worldwide who have no form of legal identification reside in Africa. While momentum to create such an ecosystem on the continent is building, its leaders have an opportunity to consider several trends from leading digital-transformation strategies globally.

Leveraging Mobile Technology

Mobile technology is a key catalyst and potential gamechanger for driving and advancing digital-ID ecosystems in Africa. Smartphone penetration and mobile-internet coverage are expanding across the continent with estimates suggesting that mobile penetration will rise from 50 per cent to 64 per cent by 2025. With its relatively low costs, ease of use and popularity, mobile technology will be vital in facilitating the creation of digital-ID ecosystems.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the global response included an acceleration of digital-transformation strategies by governments around the world. Measures included the issuing of digital vaccination passes while in Jordan and Senegal, for instance, government used mobile wallets to deliver aid payments during lockdowns. The rollout of digital-ID and verification systems has been vital to these efforts, with mobile technology at the forefront.

Photo courtesy of USAID Digital Development.

Source: Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (link opens in a new window)

digital identity, financial inclusion, public health, vaccines