Malawi’s National ID project has received appreciation and acknowledgement from delegates and organizers at ID4Africa, the continent’s largest forum and expo on legal identity that was held in Abuja, Nigeria with more than 1500 delegates from all over the world attending.
The Minister for Home Affairs and Internal Security Cecilia Chazama told the main forum that Malawi reached universal coverage during last year’s mass registration campaign for a National ID. She pointed out that from its independence in 1964 till 2017, Malawi’s adult population was never identified by any form of a legally recognized document.
“Now Africa needs to develop its policies on civil and national identification in a way that they reflect the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16, target 9. On this note, the role of identity and its importance on development outcomes is paramount, “the Minister stressed, adding that “given the legal provisions, an official identity is essential for any person to participate in a modern economy and to access basic rights and services.”
She praised UNDP project leadership for successful implementation and the government who championed the ‘National Registration and Identification System’ whose cost was co-shared between the development partners and the Malawi Government.
“The country was registered in five phases reflecting all regions to ensure a more effective registration process for all citizens aged 16 years and above. The exercise was conducted using 2,000 purposely customized biometric registration kits. Registration commenced on 24th May 2017 and ended on 24th November 2017, during which over 9,1 million citizens were registered. In addition, a total of 3,6 million children were registered alongside their parents, which most likely propels Malawi’s global ranking on children registration,” the Minister told the delegates.
In a bid to ensure that every citizen obtains a legal identification document, many African countries embark on continuous registration. Minister Chazama stressed that Malawi is now doing the same. “In Malawi, as per the legal provision, all those that attain the age 16 are required to register for the National ID. In this regard, all District Commissioners’ Offices are designated to undertake continuous registration to cater for those that missed the mass registration campaign and those turning 16 years old,” she explained.
The Minister emphasized the digital dividends of the NRIS-Project, and how the Malawi National Registration Bureau, to accelerate the demand for the National ID, is currently collaborating with various sector players of the economy. The aim is to link up the digital registry to other systems. “These include commercial banks and micro-finance institutions for financial inclusion. Other linkages include the Malawi Revenue Authority for citizens’ identification in tax registration. Further linkages will be established with Government line ministries of education, agriculture, transport, health and local government”, she clarified.
In a separate session of the Forum, Tariq Malik, the UNDP Chief Technical Advisor spoke about UNDP’s quick roll-out strategy of Malawi’s ID project, in fulfillment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16 Target 9, that calls for a legal identity for all, including free birth registrations.
“A year ago, Malawi was the only country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and in the Common Market for Southern and Eastern Africa (COMESA) that did not have a functional national registry and identification system. But this year it has joined the club of nations of the world with universal coverage of its citizens. That is a signification achievement. The goal of each Malawian citizen having chip-based biometric ID card is now perfectly tangible”, Malik told the delegates in Abuja.