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Digital IDs: The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown

– J-PAL

  • Viewpoint
  • Posted by Good ID team (Good ID)
  • Via Nidhi Parekh (J-PAL)
  • 19 October 2020

Beginning JPAL’s Digital Identification and Finance Initiative (DigiFI) in Africa blog series, Nidhi Parekh shares views on the current state of digital identity in Sub-Saharan Africa and further afield

Parekh highlights the benefits digital ID is offering and could offer to Sub-Saharan African countries, like improved data, public service delivery, targeting, or credit markets.

“Countries like Malawi, Senegal, and Uganda have rolled out national biometric ID systems, while others including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania are in the process of implementing mass registration campaigns for their new biometric IDs. More countries still, including Ethiopia, have announced plans to start enrollment for such IDs in the coming months and years. As this digital ID revolution sweeps the continent, what do we really know about its benefits and drawbacks?”

But Parekh also notes existing digital identity schemes in countries like India or Kenya have detected issues like exclusion, privacy concerns, data misuse, and implementation concerns.

The Digital Identification and Finance Initiative in Africa (DigiFI)—hosted by J-PAL Africa at the University of Cape Town—aims to fill this evidence gap by generating cutting-edge policy research projects focussed on the study of innovative government payment and ID systems

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