IGF 2021 – Day 2 – OF #27 One size fits none – Creating digital ID architecture in Africa

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> We all live in a digital world. We all need it to be open and safe. We all want to trust.

>> And to be trusted.

>> We all despise control.

>> And desire freedom.

>> We are all united.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Hello, good morning. Good afternoon, to everyone joining us both virtually and physically here in Katowice. My name is Teki Akuetteh. I will be moderating this session on One Size Fits None: Creating Digital ID Architecture in Africa.

Legal identification is a critical component of our societies today. Enabling the design and formulation of economic and social policies that bring real value to communities. The value of providing legal identity for all in the area of poverty reduction, education, governance, and health, cannot, therefore, be underestimated. Hence, the call on the SDG 16.9 for legal identity for all by 2030. It is in line with the importance of IDs that in the past decade we have seen significant efforts on the continent of Africa to provide legal IDs for all of its citizens.

While providing legal IDs is a step to effective participation in the digital economy, Africa is fostering and enabling participation of its citizens in the much touted 2 trillion market.

Today, we will be exploring what it will take to create the right digital ID architecture for Africa. One that responds to its unique needs.

In the process, we'll also be hearing about the AU interoperability framework for digital IDs. While also looking at its challenges, opportunities, and the way forward.

We have, therefore, been joined by these eminent panelists virtually who will help us navigate this complex topic. In no uncertain order, I would like to briefly introduce all of them and then bring them on board.

We will be joined today by Mihret Woodmatas, she is a Digital Infrastructure and Policy Expert who strives to maximize the use of digital technologies and data for Africa's socioeconomic development by minimizing risks. Currently, she is a Senior IT Expert at the African Union Commission. Supports the implementation of Digital Transformation Summit for Africa.

We'll also be joined by Jonathan Marskell who is a Senior Programme Officer at the World Bank Group's cross‑sectional Identification for Development initiative. He is responsible for leading and supporting financing and technical assistance for countries to build inclusive and trusted ID and digital registration systems across Asia and the Pacific. And East and South Africa.

We'll also be joined by Toby Norman who's the CEO and founder of Simprints, with a team of more than 35 people working on digital ID projects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Zambia. Jonathan holds a Ph.D. in Management Science from the University of Cambridge.

We'll also be joined by Robert Karanja, Director of Responsible Technology Team at the Omidyar Network with a specific focus on leading strategic investments that advance the evolution of digital identification, including privacy, use of value and control and security.

Last but not the least, we will also be joined by Gabriela Razzano who is Executive Director of OpenUp, a civic technology hub in Capetown focused on empowering people and government through data, technology, and innovation. Before, Gabriela worked at ITC Africa, where she led the development of a case study on digital identification ecosystems in South Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. And I'm very excited for the discussions we will be having today.

But let me start with you, Mihret. I would love for you to share a bit of an overview on the interoperability framework that is currently being developed. Thank you, Mihret.

>> MIHRET WOODMATAS: Thank you very much. Greetings from the African Union Commission. Thank you, all participants and the panelists, who joined this important session.

As you may be aware, according to the World Bank Report 2018, half of the estimated 1 billion worldly population lack any form of legal identification is living in our continent, Africa. This, obviously, means that most of our people are not only limited from accessing available social services and participating in informal political and economic activity, but also as a continent, we are losing a huge opportunity that could have been created through other people without legal identification.

A strategic framework for the socioeconomic development and transformation of the continent creates a vision of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena, has called for a legal identity for all its African citizens to ensure the realization of the vision and sustain it.

This initiative is also aligned with the SDG 2030 target as mentioned by our moderator.

Moreover, the transformation strategy for Africa has been endorsed by six organisations of the Africa Union Executive Council in February 2020 also underscored the importance of identity which is a digital identity as a building block for the establishment of digital market in Africa, which is aligned with the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Knowing the importance of the digital ID to their citizens, most of the AU member states are embarking on establishing a modern ID system or digital ID system that not only helped to bridge the digital identity gap but also help them to reduce (?) as associated with the traditional paper‑based system which is not fit for the digital age.

The move to establish a national foundation of the digital ID system to provide legal identity for all, as long as the design is based on security, stability, at a national continental level which would make Africa and cross‑border trade employment travel easier. Thereby, reducing costs.

Hence, in order to assist member states in their effort and maximize opportunity provided by the digitalization, realize the African unity. Created a task force that included representatives from the regional communities, African Development Bank, Africa secretariat. The AU. ITU. World Bank. And other Africa institutions and partners. This is to take advantage of previous continental initiatives and build up on it to draft the interoperability framework for the digital ID during the second part of 2021.

The task force came up with interoperability framework of the digital ID with the vision that all African citizens can easily access their services when they need them from both public and private sector providers which would encourage inclusive and meaningful participation in the wider digital economy and society and allow services to operate with trust and certainty.

It also provides common requirement including business, technical, operational, and legal requirements that's a base for the operability with the member states. While member states retain full control and choice for design of the national systems and respecting their (?)

The draft framework has been reached with inputs received from Civil Society, academia, and partners (?) through July 2021. The framework has also been validated by member states. Plan to be adopted by January during the upcoming AU summit. As you can see, the framework is at a very early stage that a huge amount of work is ahead.

The challenges ‑‑ so when the vision was set or the task force is formulated, the challenges surround the realization of this important and critical mission for Africa were also discussed. It actually ranges from the lack of connectivity, electricity, low level of literacy in general, and digital in particular, which may further increase the number of African citizens which will be left behind, if it is not addressed as soon as possible.

The unavailability of secure (?) at the national level. The absence of technical and legal capacity to ensure privacy data protection and combat cybercrime is a challenge that we are facing on the way forward.

But these challenges ‑‑ proposals to mitigate the challenges. Moreover, these challenges can be solved if there is a political commitment to own and drive this important future‑oriented approach. And based on a win/win partnership and determination from the African community.

This framework is supposed to plan to be implemented in three phases. The phase 1, phase 2, phase 3. Phase 1 covered '21‑'22. Phase 2 covers '23‑'24. Phase 3 covers '25 and '30. Where we expect now to be adopted. There's work that needs to be done including the legal and regulatory instrument. The Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection. And the nomination of expert groups by AU member states to define further the interoperability and the technical requirements and build the capacity. And then setting resource mobilization to build datacenters are part of the phase 1 activities to realizing this vision in the framework.

There are also expectations for member states, from the AU side, from member states. We're very much encouraging and supporting for the ratification of particularly the cybersecurity ‑‑ the convention on cybersecurity. The creation of the legal regulatory framework. And also other continental signing and ratifying other ‑‑ adopting other continental framework. And then more importantly launching foundational ID system which is a base for the interoperability digital ID system across the continent.

Phase 2 will move on and actually working on the technical specifications for the interoperability and the trust in the government mechanisms. Once this is done, phase 3 will continue. And then actual implementation of the framework within member states. That's what I would say at this point of time and happy to answer some of the questions that you may have at this point of the development of the framework. Thank you very much.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much, Mihret. That was extremely comprehensive. I want to move to the other panelists and take your reaction to Mihret's presentation in three minutes each. In no uncertain order. I'm going to start with Gabriela. I'm a bit biased toward the women. So, Gabriela, kindly give me a three‑minute reaction to what you think this framework holds and what you think about it. Thank you.

>> GABRIELA RAZZANO: I thought I was on the end of the list. So, no, I mean, part of what I was thinking of talking about, a little bit about in this context, and it is just understanding the kind of context that these kinds of frameworks are going to be coming in to sustain (?) and if we think about South Africa, for instance, you know, you have a context of, like, very ‑‑ what can essentially ‑‑ well, maybe I should take a step back and just say that, you know, the different contexts will mean different levels of complexity. But also different kinds of prioritization that need to happen in terms of trying to get good ID available to people.

If you look at South Africa, for instance, you have a sort of hodgepodge of foundational identity system that's slowly transitioning to smarter identity documents. Which will include biometric and other data. But also major decentralized identity systems used by the public sector, functional identity systems used by the public sector. So, for instance, our database, our social pensions database. You know, relates to the identities of millions and millions of people who receive life‑preserving social grants through the systems. Then you also have a lot of functional identity systems being driven by the private sector at the same time.

And so you have I think sometimes what we fail to consider, and I'll touch on these very briefly. One of the things is that, you know, data problems are digital ID problems. So in situations where the gaps in data governance or challenges in data governance, those will affect the digital identity systems as well. Although, to note that, you know, digital identity systems obviously come with their own kinds of risks and opportunities, too.

The other is that, you know, the actual technologies, themselves, are being embedded ‑‑ well, say, in South Africa. I know in a lot of other African countries in context with weak infrastructure to facilitate digital identity systems. Which often means a heavy reliance on the private sector. Both to build infrastructure but also to deliver on services.

This relationship can sometimes be unproductive. Sometimes it can be very productive. But, you know, and I think that brings in an interesting counter which is that in many ways, transparency and improving transparency and good governance frameworks more broadly becomes an enabler for actually mitigating some of the privacy risks that come with these technologies. And what I'm thinking about there is, you know, a number of times that relationships between the ‑‑ in South Africa, where relationships between the public sector and the private sector have led to collusion, improper projects, and all those kinds of things.

So, yeah, I mean, I suppose my comment and brief is that there are a lot of diverged systems that need to be considered. And so how frameworks can support, you know, particular domestic context is always the challenging part. Which I'm sure you know. And also just to sound the bell of aligning some of the data governance conversations with the digital identity conversations. Which I think, I know, actually already are happening. And that's me.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you so much, Gabriela. In my world, the last should become the first. So, Robert, I just want to come to you. But before then, those in the room, if you have your question, let's get it ready. As well as those in the audience, you can put your questions in the chat. I believe it's being monitored and will be shared with us shortly.

Robert, what is your reaction to all of this especially looking at the work that you're doing on the continent?

>> ROBERT KARANJA: Thank you very much, Teki. I was very much looking forward to joining your world. I'm very encouraged by what Mihret put forward in terms of the work the African Union is doing around the interoperability framework. Because that is very much in line with our hypothesis as the media that's guided our investments across the continent. And, you know, the key hypothesis she touched on that I'd like to briefly discuss is we are very much looking at, you know, influencing governments across the continent through norms and multilaterals, by investing in multilateral organisations. And so we've done that by working closely with our partners at UNECA, Smart Africa and the World Bank ‑‑ Jonathan's team. With the intent that we continue to strengthen that good ID framework through working with the multilaterals, then we can continue to push for key safeguards and technical solutions. The modular open‑source platform on which we do hope that a lot of national foundational IDs will be built. Has rolled out in the Philippines and is in several discussions across the continent to roll out national foundational ID systems across the continent.

And, again, we do also hope that as the AUC and other multilateral organisations continue to work across the continent that we'll see a shift among African countries. Not only shifting to new standard issue ID systems but also have the capacity and incentives to implement policies aligned with the principles of good ID.

Of course, over the last few years, several African governments have set up data protection offices. I think that's really a good start in terms of not only setting up that framework for data protection authorities, but also ensuring that those are independent. I think the key word here, being independent. It's one thing to set up a DPA. If the DPA is not allowed to go about their business in an independent manner and there's interference from other sources, then that is almost (?) against what the good ID framework would look like.

So just in conclusion to say that the work that the AUC is doing and other multilaterals across the continent is very much in line with the hypothesis and influenced our investment decisions across the continent. Thank you.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much, Robert. Toby, let me come to you. You've worked in at least four African countries. You're very much aware of the diversity that even exists in this ecosystem. How do you think, you know, the framework as explained by Mihret is really going to help us navigate this challenging environment for Africa?

>> TOBY NORMAN: Yeah. That's a great question. And I echo Robert's enthusiasm. I think I'm very encouraged listening to and learning more about this framework. I think where it's going to help is it's going to help us manage really some very complex and large‑scale digital ID programming. Particularly ones that have three trends in particular that are landing at the same time. The first one Robert touched on briefly which was the trend we see toward open-source digital ID tools in the foundational and functional world. So, for example, on the functional side, the huge adoption we've seen over the past five years or so of some of the functional ‑‑ things like DIH2, for example, which is used in health care and health care delivery. We're seeing a national scale now across the African subcontinent which is really exciting. 33 different countries used it for COVID vaccine delivery registries. We're going to see a lot more of that. The UN, itself, is endorsing this push against public goods.

The second one that's very important and very close to my heart and our work is use of biometrics. Safe and responsible use of biometrics. This can bring a lot of advantages both in terms of the accuracy, the reliability and the uniqueness of data in some of these digital ID systems. But this is also highly sensitive data. It has a lot of risks if used badly. For example, if you look at what happened with Afghanistan with the large amount of biometric devices that were left and then used by the Taliban. We should be really concerned about this.

While I think there is a number of technical solutions that are promising, for example, things like biometric ability, encryptions, new stuff that's coming out. We should be really concerned that if we don't have through the frameworks but also on the local legal privacy around a truly independent data protection, we're going to have big problems here in the future. So this is one of theirs that we're really concerned about and a trend. We're seeing biometrics adopted more and more across programming.

The final one, a place we go, an excellent framework. We have a lot more experience now in terms of rolling out foundational and functional identity programmes. I still think there's going to be a huge gap between aspiration and reality if we don't concentrate and support some of the technical assistance that's required to make this happen. You know, we've done, for example, a lot of frontline programming with Gavi using biometric digital IDs for vaccine rollout campaigns.

One of the big challenges we see is just the requirements. If you imagine, like, a health worker or national government worker as part of the national registration. They're in the front‑line context trying to actually take, give, either foundational or functional ID for service delivery. There's a huge number of challenges that we got to grapple with from the truly informed consent, for example, with folks who maybe don't have huge amounts of education based on where they are in their life. To the technical challenges for some of these systems. Also exciting. Those big infrastructure gaps we got to grapple with. To then the interoperability, making that not just theoretically but actually doing that practice. Do we have interoperability testing as part of the rollouts of some of the digital ID initiatives? We can prove before we let the vendor walk away that that's genuinely baked into the programme.

I think those are three of the trends I see that are probably going to be influencing the way we actually see the excellent work that's happening on the framework rollout.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much, Jonathan. I'm just coming to you. Yes. The idea of the framework is exciting. But what are your reactions there? And based on your experience and also exposure to the African space. What do you think may be some of the challenges and how can we navigate this?

>> JONATHAN MARSKELL: Thank you so much, Teki. Hello, everyone. Let me start by commending the African Union Commission for driving this process ahead. Because it hasn't been easy. There's been tight timelines and a process that features a lot of consultation and the actual framework document, itself, which hopefully will be published soon is in very good shape.

The first reaction that I would have is this fills a necessary ‑‑ it fills a key void in creating a normative framework for digital ID in Africa. Of course, there's some global standards. There's not standards that cover everything. But there are some standards that exist. But these are very ‑‑ these are developed, frankly, by high‑income advanced economies. And some of these standards, for example, around passports, introduce a lot of cost and don't take into account unique circumstances of African countries and the same, to be honest, in parts of Asia as well.

And on the continent, there's been a huge initiative around civil registration and vital statistics. There's been a lot of work around payments. Data a little bit as well. But digital identity has kind of remained a gap. And so creating a normative framework on inclusion, on data protection, on interoperability, is a very important step because as Mihret said, a lot of African countries if not the majority are rolling out new ID systems or modernizing existing ones. So the time to get these norms out is right now.

The second point I want to make is that, and I love the title of this session, which is One Size Fits None. Because that's the reality of this agenda. Every country is going to have a different ID system. In terms of the data. In terms of the credentials. In terms of the processes. In terms of the institutional arrangements. And so creating a framework that encompasses all African Union member states is very difficult. But what the framework has done very well is not interfere with national sovereignty of countries to design their ID systems as they want. But to create a layer on top that facilitates cross‑border interoperability and mutual recognition. And to do so in such a way that is technologically neutral. Technology neutral. Vendor neutral. But also takes advantage of emerging standards like, for example, verifiable credentials.

And this is going to position the continent very well as the digital economy grows even faster. And even more. As more and more people will want to do transactions online.

To be honest, the use case is there for cross‑border digital ID in Africa. There's not many. There are some. But this is going to change. As economies grow and there's more e‑commerce, more cross‑border payments. More opportunities for trade that will create ‑‑ the ACFTA creating opportunities for, you know, opening businesses in other countries. And this framework will help people do that. It will promote trade in Africa. It will promote social integration as well.

Finally, in terms of challenges, Teki, your question. I think the major challenges first and foremost, the framework is just, it's high level now. It will need to be translated into details. I think that process will need to start in earnest after hopefully the framework is endorsed by the Heads of State. That process is going to be complicated. Negotiating the different interests between 50‑plus countries.

Second, at the national level, I think the coordination between different stakeholders. Because ID is such a cross‑sectoral issue. There are ID agencies in countries. Typically, Ministry of Home Affairs or Interior but increasingly Ministries of ITC to ensure all stakeholders and countries are consulted with and buy in and own this process.

Then finally, in terms of the ability of countries to implement, this requires capacity. It also requires digital public goods. Robert mentioned some of the great work. There's other digital public goods that will hopefully support this framework in the near future. Thank you.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much, Jonathan. If there are any questions in the room, I'll kindly ask you to come forward. If there are questions.

Meanwhile, I just have a few questions that I want to ask. Mihret, I'm going to start with you since you are at the implementing helm of this challenge. What do you see as the potential hopes and fears you have for this framework? How are you planning to navigate that?

>> MIHRET WOODMATAS: Thank you very much, Teki, for this very important question. Hope that as an African, we have to step up and take part in this digital economy. We don't have to lose this opportunity. We need to maximize whatever opportunity we get from this digitalization to support Africa from all those associated expressions.

So the digital ID, or the framework, will give us the opportunity, especially the interoperability, for Africans to cross borders freely. To exchange data. To do business. This unlocks a huge opportunity for us.

As the digital ID, this initiative, I believe, will be welcomed by most members. All member states, if I may say. I have a big hope that this will be ‑‑ it should have a positive prospect. But my fear is we know where we are in terms of digital infrastructure. We know our Internet is not reaching a certain person. We know our digital literacy level. We know the investments that we made to secure our key infrastructures. Including our data.

If we are not able to work to bridge those gaps, then realizing the framework will remain a vision. So that's in a nutshell what I would like to say. Thank you.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much. And I think that just brings me to the next question that I'm really itching to ask all our other panelists to maybe briefly react to it. How do you think we can overcome the entrenched offline inequalities with civil registration systems around the digital interventions like digital ID? Can we even do this at all? And is digital necessarily better than what we currently have? I'm going to start with you, Gabriela, then Robert and Jonathan and Toby. So, kindly react to that for me.

>> GABRIELA RAZZANO: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the most important rallying calls is, you know, in our context is how much digital transformation and digital services are marked by inequalities. And the reality of inequalities on the ground. You know. And I think you can't answer questions on improved digital identity. First answering those really traditional questions on how to expand infrastructure in a way that's equitable and practical and cost efficient. Which necessarily in our context means, you know, different kinds of public/private partnerships to pick up those gaps. Those infrastructure gaps that still exist.

But I think, yeah, I don't always know that digital is better. We, you know, a lot of our technology solutions are very much focused on low technical approaches. Given connectivity. Given data costs. And all these things. And, you know, I think the priority needs to be the problem solving. So how do you solve this problem for people in a way that's equitable? And, you know, in many ways, they risk the digital identity system, you know, we can talk about risks. Would talk very well about risks and the manifestations of risks. There is the risk of being excluded from systems that actually give you access to fundamental services. And I think sometimes we don't ‑‑ when we're talking of context, I think it's sometimes underappreciated how central digital identity will become to accessing life‑preserving services for many people. And that risk is huge. That risk of exclusion is gigantic. I mean, when you consider in South Africa that 13 million people get social grants, for instance. That kind of thing.

But at the same time, I think it's the risk of inclusions and systems ‑‑ inclusion without representation. You know. So how do you manifest participation in these, not just the rollout of these systems but in the development of these systems. And I think we need to think very creatively about how to do that before we even think of what to do with the technology.

Yeah. That's my answer in brief.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much. Robert, on the inequalities.

>> ROBERT KARANJA: Thanks, Teki. I just wanted to, perhaps, respond to a question in two ways. One, looking at the political will. You know, of governments in the region, to advance inclusion within their society. And to also consider the fact that if I think about the African community, for example, we tend to have quite a fragile environment. And we do have Kenya, for example, at any one time maybe hosts 2 million to maybe 3 million refugees at any one time. Including stateless individuals. And how do we consider these individuals to provide them with an equal opportunity to education, health care, social services. What systems are in place? And is there the political will to do so?

And when I look back to the early days of the East Africa community which is often talked to as perhaps the most advanced regional economic body across the continent, it's still nascent in terms of we've got a secretariat in Arusha that should be independent and should be able to operate beyond any political interference. And we've got a Customs Union in place that essentially says that if you're a citizen of any of the countries, you can travel across borders with only a national identity card, if available. Not all countries have a national identity. Kenya has had one for a long time. That is drawn down from pre‑Colonial. And then adopted as the national ID.

Tanzania, for example, has not had a national identity and, you know, the Customs Union, of course, does propose that they would look at setting up a foundational national ID system before we even talk about our digital ID system.

But, again, the Customs Union does say there should be a movement of capital goods and people across borders. But the political will has not been always there. And I think that can be a hindrance to even interoperability of digital ID systems if we cannot have a system in place that allows even a basic Customs Union to be implemented. Those are some of the challenges that we need to work through. And hopefully the multilaterals through their convening power will be able to influence national governments to move in that direction in a positive way. Thank you.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much. Jonathan, in two minutes, please. And then I'll come to you, Toby. Yeah.

>> JONATHAN MARSKELL: Thanks. I'll try to answer the questions in two parts. First, regarding is digital better or inevitable? The reality is that these technologies have been invented and rolled out. Innovated. To address problems. And if you think about paper records, my family is from the Soviet Union. The records are lost. The Soviet Union was very good at keeping records when it comes to birth records, marriage records, et cetera. Physical or paper records are easy to forge, easy to lose, get destroyed. Conflicts, especially. I worked in a number of countries who lost their registration records because of civil conflict. It's hard to transport them. It's expensive to archive them. Et cetera. Yes, there are risks with digitalization. The counterfactual is not as good.

And I think the intention, then, should be to ensure that when these technologies are applied, when these solutions are applied, that they are done so in ways that are appropriate for the context. Something that works in Estonia is not going to work in the Central African Republic, for example. So I think that's where we need to be more deliberate.

The digital public goods that are more appropriate for developing country context, solutions that work offline and online, is very important. But also always maintaining manual or analog alternatives, whether it's for those people who cannot access digital means. Or for those ‑‑ or for when the digital systems go down. Which they inevitably do.

On the question about civil registration, very briefly, it's not a zero‑sum game between digital ID and civil registration. Unfortunately, some like to frame it like that. That's not the reality. I think what's happening is that countries and ministries of finance, in particular, they have limited resources and they need to decide where would they get the largest return on investment. A birth certificate is extremely important for that child's future. Or their legal identity. But will it improve government‑to‑person payments? Will it improve financial inclusion? Will it improve digital government? Not necessarily. So there's a need for a stronger investment case for civil registration.

And what we find in our experience is one of the best arguments is if you get a good civil registration in place capturing all the births and deaths, that makes national ID, your foundational ID system, better, more efficient. That's a very good argument. It shows they're actually mutually beneficial.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you. Thank you. Toby, last but not least.

>> TOBY NORMAN: Just to move on to the risks ‑‑ the first gap, that risk to exclusion. So, for example, we still see fingerprints as one of the most commonly used biometric modalities in the digital ID programmes across Africa.

When I was a researcher at the University of Cambridge, we did a study with over 135,000 different fingerprints mostly from really rural and low‑income populations. So folks have scars, damaged, particularly women, burned fingerprints from lifting cooking pots over open fires. Which meant that the damage meant they were often unreadable and had a much, much higher risk of false rejection from some of the existing digital ID systems.

And so the fear is that if we ‑‑ these are solvable problems. I think one very genuine fear is if we don't know about them, we don't design practically in mind for some of them, those people get excluded from social benefits, cash transfers, whatever the intervention is for digital ID if we're not really thoughtful about that. If we're not looking for the right solutions.

The second risk I think is the will to go up the top part of the adoption curve through the disillusionment cycle. That's where digital ID could bring a huge benefit.

Speaking to folks in the Ministry of Health, they were asking why is it that I every month get reports saying we vaccinated more than 130% of my districts, but every year, I get vaccine‑preventable epidemics breaking out in these districts. I believe the future is digital. One of the huge benefits we can get from the work people doing here on digital ID can really get accurate precision, real-time data about who we're reaching and who we're not reaching with very life‑saving interventions. I'm really excited about that. We need to know the data counts were accurate. In many cases it's going to drive what looks like big‑picture numbers down because it's getting more accurate. There's a risk, people will see that decrease as we get the accuracy. Then we'll start to lose the political or investment will to go through this whole cycle and see some of the benefits from the digital side. If we're not conscious of the long road, the framework, we're going to lose that along way.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you. We have a question in Katowice. I hand it over to you to ask your question, sir.

>> Hello. Thank you so much for your nice and interesting conversation. I think the African ID programme would be one of the most famous and interesting best practices in all the world in the near future.

But I have two questions. The first question is that as you talked, there's a relationship between digital transformation programme in Africa and the identity programme. I want to know exactly what's the relationship between these two? As you know, there's a transformation in national level. Lots of different projects in government. In actual different enterprises. In private sectors. So on. I want to know the relationship between these two. Do you view the identity as one of the projects or completely different?

The second question is that as we know, developing identity programme in countries is a sovereign and national decision, actually. And as we know in Africa, the World Bank has a lot of significant and effective role in developing national ID programme. What's the role of cybersecurity strategies and sovereignty viewpoints of Africa in this regard?

As we know, each country has their own, actually, context and cultural, social, and other factors. But in sovereignty viewpoint, what's the Africa points in developing the identity programme? Thank you.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much. Mihret, I'll give you the opportunity to react to some of the questions that have been asked and ask one or two of the other panelists to just give an intervention on it.

>> MIHRET WOODMATAS: Thank you very much, Teki, and thank you very much for the question. So let me go to first relationship between the digital transformation and the digital ID.

The digital transformation strategy for Africa has identified pillars enabling five cross‑cutting themes. Seven guiding principles. And critical sectors that needs to be addressed or dealt with in order to realize the digital transformation by 2030.

So among these five cross‑cutting themes to realize digital transformation in Africa, digital ID is one of them. One is content and application. The second is digital ID. The third is emerging technologies. The fourth is cybersecurity and personal data protection. The fifth is research and development. These are the five cross‑cutting themes that is identified for the realization of digital transformation strategy for Africa. The relation is very direct. That is one.

The others, we this is the digital agriculture, digital trade and financial services, digital industry, digital health, of the critical sectors as well. And then if we move forward, the digital transformation strategy to realize the digital single market in Africa by 2030. In order to realize a digital single market in Africa, it also is the target to (?) digital ID for Africa, 99.9% of African citizens to have a digital ID by 2030.

Then this is also related with the African ‑‑ the African Continental Free Trade Area. I'm not sure if I answered your question about the relationship between the digital strategy.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you, Mihret. Looking at our time and thinking that you really digested it. I see a question. Mahlet, I believe there's a question online. So can we have that question? And then I will use that. We have our last nine minutes. We'll use all the panelists' reaction to it as the closing remarks. And then we can close on time.

Mahlet, I believe there's a question.

>> MAHLET TESFAHUN: There's one question for all panelists. It says in his opening address to the IGF yesterday, UN Secretary‑General Antonio Guterres noted the pandemic has magnified the digital divide and dark side of technology. How do we address or mitigate the dark side of digital identities, if there is one?

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much. So I will start again with you, Gabriela, then we will move through the same format we started before. And then I'll end with Mihret.

>> GABRIELA RAZZANO: We talked about inclusion and exclusion risks and all those things. But I really do believe that part of the risks in being left behind is the idea that, you know, on the subjects of technology and not the creators and innovators of technology. I think there are a lot of risks that can be made actually by facilitating local innovation, which is inclusionary in the populations that it seems to subject. You know. And I really think that's an important driving force for practically dealing with some of these risks.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you. Robert?

>> ROBERT KARANJA: Thanks, Teki. I agree with the first question that the implementation of ID systems is tied into the sovereignty of governments. I think one missing equation we have not discussed in detail is the fact that who then holds governments accountable? In that case, Civil Society also has to be strengthened across the continent. Has to be empowered and provided with technical knowledge to be able to hold their governments accountable. Especially, when it comes to issues around design, policy, inclusion, and all the specific norms and practices that we would expect from a good ID system.

So I think it's very important as we look to government on one hand to implement these systems, we're also strengthening the other hand, which is Civil Society actors to be able to hold their governments accountable, the role of digital ID systems. Thank you.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you. Toby?

>> TOBY NORMAN: I'll just end with like any technical wave, digital identity has a ton of promise and ton of risks. Look at the way digital identity is used today in China versus the way it's used, for example, in Ghana. There are huge differences in how these technologies and the associated systems are used.

My encouragement is I think that personal self‑sovereignty, the individual owning, controlling, having choice over how that digital identity is used I see as a very positive trend. A number of partners we work with. If we keep pushing in that direction, a lot of the risks we'll be able to manage because people are going to have and control their own identity.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you. That was right on. Jonathan?

>> JONATHAN MARSKELL: I agree with everything the other panelists have said. Just to answer the question on how to address the dark side, and there is a dark side. There's the Ten Principles on ID for Sustainable Development. They've been endorsed by 30 organisations including the media and many UN agencies. African Development Bank. Et cetera. I think the answer more or less at a high level, at least, lies there. Thank you.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much. Mihret, how do we address the dark side to all this?

>> MIHRET WOODMATAS: So in my view, we just have to understand the dark side in the first place. And try to address that dark side based on ‑‑ so based on the level, the capability, the opportunity, and the challenge. We can see it on different sides. The first thing is we have to be very clear what is the dark side. And then how we are going to address it will be coming. It's very difficult to give immediate answer. To know the dark side and find a solution to address the dark side. Understanding the problem comes first. Thank you.

>> TEKI AKUETTEH: Thank you very much, Mihret. On that note, I just want to say thank you to all our panelists and audience both online and in the room here in Katowice.

I think going back, today happens to be exactly 63 years when the first president of Ghana called a meeting in Ghana on African unity. I just want to reiterate a statement that he made which I think is even more important today. And one of the things he said in his opening speech of the conference was the fact that Africans should be open to adopting what works and adopting what works and rejecting what will not work for us.

And I think that is, you know, a big takeaway for us on the importance of digital ID for the continent. Clearly, it is a building block to participation in the digital economy. And if our people are going to make the most of the digital economy, then we have to ensure that they are equipped and able to participate.

At the same time, we must recognize our unique difference and the ecosystem in which we exist and the possibility of exclusion of the most important people that matter on our continent.

And so whatever we look at, whatever efforts as we have heard here today, must look at mitigating and minimizing and maybe to choose the words (?) Some of the processes it will pose for our people.

Overall, I believe the future is bright. It's come out clearly that there is a lot of work that has to be done. The framework is a good step. Clearly, as identified by the AU, itself, it's a step in the right direction. There are many, many more steps we have to take in order to ensure this works for all of us for our countries and for all the people on the continent. Interoperability will create the enabling platform that we need for everyone to participate. But in doing that as well, we must look at technologies, the adoption of technologies, that can facilitate this.

We must also look at the adoption of policies that will strengthen good ID frameworks in order to achieve this.

On that note, I want to once again say thank you to everyone, especially those of you joining us from elsewhere. And those that came to join us here in the room. I appreciate having you here this afternoon. Thank you. And we'll meet again sometime soon.