Missing identity: an urgent challenge for Africa

Civil registration and vital statistics systems (CRVS) remain some of the weakest points in African national statistical systems. According to Unicef, 41% of sub-Saharan African children under five years of age have never been registered. “The demand for registration services remains weak because many people do not have adequate awareness about the importance of civil registration for them and their families,” explains Camilla Rocca in a blog post published by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Without civil registration, future citizens will not be able to: obtain an ID card, go to school, attend university, gain formal employment, vote in an election, access financial services such as a bank account, buy property or prove the right to inherit land. It is a long list of obstacles. In the past, support programmes have often been conducted without connection to national development frameworks. Several continental and multilateral initiatives, such as the Africa Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS), are now underway and aim to build a common and consolidated policy and advocacy framework for CRVS initiatives on the continent.