On Tuesday, June 18, 2019, the international identity community converges on the South African capital for the world’s largest and most significant conference on identity matters.  The 5thAnnual Meeting of the ID4Africa Movement (ID4Africa 2019) opens its doors at the Emperors Palace Convention Centre in Johannesburg, to welcome over 1500 delegates from a record 95 countries including 50 African nations, to address, in 3 intense days, issues related to identity for development and humanitarian action in Africa and beyond.

Of significance this year is the record number of senior level African government officials attending; with over 650 decision-makers from a diverse cross-section of government stakeholders, representing 50 African nations, present. Also of significance is the breadth of participation of the remaining 900 delegates, who represent international organizations such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNSD, UNHCR, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, ICAO, IOM, the Dutch government, the governments of Denmark, France, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Philippines, and Japan, in addition to strong participation from the private sector including the international and African identity and IT industries, the banking and FinTech sector, leading philanthropic foundations and civil society.

The ID4Africa Annual Meeting has become the place to be to report on progress, share experiences and best practices, identify open challenges in the context of development, and establish the priorities for the identity community related to legal and digital identity. The overarching theme for this year’s conference, ‘Identity Ecosystems for Service Delivery’, affirms that identity is not just a right but must be of utility for it to contribute to development.  The  program is organized along several thematic tracks in support of that theme including, foundational identity, identity for inclusion, migration and borders, identity and democracy, advanced technologies and processes, along with several side meetings, spotlight sessions and workshops related to infant biometrics,  privacy, data protection and appropriate uses of identity. Over 120 experts and practitioners from governments, international agencies and the private sector will share regional and international experiences in support of the stated theme.

In its 5th year, the Movement is launching a series of new initiatives that are evident within the 2019 program activities and side meetings. For the first time, ID4Africa has brought in Mastercard, as a Thematic Partner for a comprehensive Identity for Inclusion track with strong emphasis on financial inclusion. Through that partnership and the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Omidyar Network, ID4Africa is able to bring into this dialogue a significant number of organizations concerned with financial and social inclusion. These include central and commercial banks, treasuries, regulators, NGOs, FinTech innovators and other actors driving the African inclusion agenda.

Another matter taking center stage this year is the complex issue of privacy, data protection and appropriate use of identity, which are addressed through several activities embedded in the overall program. These include the Roundtable of African Data Protection Authorities (RADPA), being launched on the first day as a side meeting to allow the African DPAs and their international allies to define a common approach to dealing with data protection and privacy as it relates to identity systems. The output of RADPA will be discussed with the broader identity community within sessions on the second and third days.

Dr. Joseph J. Atick, Executive Chairman of ID4Africa commented “We are thrilled with the reaction and engagement we are seeing from the African and international communities to what can only be termed as our best agenda ever.We have succeeded in bringing senior government representatives from 50 African countries, and professionals from 95 different nations around the world under one roof in Africa, which is a testament to the importance of this year’s agenda to the whole world. The program builds on what we have accomplished together over the last four years but more importantly it brings into focus new critical issues and engages with new actors.  These include issues such as privacy, identity lifecycle management, appropriate uses, inclusion, and the role of the African private sector and civil society.” He continued “We are also pleased to be holding this agenda in South Africa, a country that has dealt with some of these matters and has succeeded in developing a performant identity ecosystem that can serve as a useful model to inspire the efforts of other developing nations in doing the same.”

Acting Director General of the Department of Home Affairs, Mr. Thulani Mavuso, said “DHA is very pleased to be the host for this year’s milestone event, and to welcome such an impressive gathering of distinguished officials and experts, who have come to South Africa to work on the important topic of the provision of identity as a right for all.”   He added “We laud and support the efforts of the ID4Africa Movement for bringing positive change through responsible adoption of identity, and we are happy to share our pertinent experience with the ID4Africa Community.  I am sure we will also learn from the experiences of others, to benefit our efforts as we launch the next generation service delivery systems and leverage them to drive economic development in the context of our country’s digital transformation anchored on robust digital identity.”

The 3-day conference is accompanied by one of the world’s largest identity and biometrics expositions where 120 international companies exhibit and demonstrate cutting-edge innovations and solutions, developed for Africa – by design – to be uniquely adapted to meet the specific identification requirements on the Continent.

In assessing the overall achievements of ID4Africa since inception in 2014, Dr. Atick stated, “In addition to building the identity community in Africa, and to promoting dialogue and knowledge exchange — which have helped many African countries deal with their identification problems and reinforce their capacity, we have been creating institutions to empower African talent. We started with the Ambassadors Program in 2016, which has grown over the years to where today 43 countries have designated Ambassadors that act as important links between the Movement and their national institutions, ensuring we are aware and responsive to their national needs. This year we are launching yet another important institution, the ID4Africa Identity Council (IIC), which unites the 43 Ambassadors in a  Pan-African body under the leadership of a president that will be elected on June 17, 2019 from the 11 candidates that have presented themselves for the position.”  He continued “The IIC will be a voice from Africa and for Africa that can be relied upon by  governments to provide collective expert guidance and advice. The inaugural session of this promising new institution is yet another significant side meeting taking place at ID4Africa 2019 in South Africa”

In closing Dr. Atick, added “We wish to sincerely thank the people of South Africa, the government of South Africa and especially the DHA for their hospitality and for their engagement as true partners of the Movement.”

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