November 2020 – February 2022
With the growing appetite for digital ID systems across the world, there is a pressing need to examine their impact on human rights, the rule of law, and the people who will be included (or excluded) from their consequences for socio-digital inequality. This is important because digital ID systems can create an inherent power imbalance between the State and its people because of the personal data such interventions collect; leaving residents with little ability to exert agency in its collection, storage and use. This is particularly true given that the provision of such identities are often associated with the bestowal of certain rights or other benefits, yet potentially introduce risks of surveillance, exclusion, and discrimination.
The research, supported by the Omidyar Network, will deploy the Evaluation Framework for Digital Identities (‘Evaluation Framework’) developed by our colleagues at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) with the purpose of assessing the alignment of digital ID systems for compliance with international rights and data protection norms. The project will support human and civil rights by conducting research related to digital identity throughout Africa and to broadly disseminate the research findings. Specifically, the grant objective is to:
- Evaluate Digital ID systems of ten countries using an evaluation framework.
- Develop the ten organizations’/ partners’ ability to critically evaluate Digital ID systems using a rigorous academic approach and peer-review mechanisms.
- Create a public repository of African Digital ID systems (“State of Africa ID”), a website with detailed notes on statutory, governance, and design elements of Digital ID in the countries evaluated.
- Ghana: Teki Akuetteh Falconer (African Digital Rights Club)
- Kenya: Grace Mutung’u (CIPIT)
- Lesotho: Nthabiseng Pule (C3SA)
- Mozambique: Polly Gaster and Izalde Martins (CIUEM)
- Nigeria: Tunde Okunoye (Berkman Klein)
- Rwanda: Elvis Mbembe Binda (University of Rwanda)
- South Africa: Gabriella Razzano (RIA)
- Tanzania: Dr Patricia Boshe (AFRILTI)
- Uganda: Neema Iyer (Pollicy)
- Zimbabwe: Nhlanhla Ngwenya
We kick of the blog with a series of three introductory blogs. Read the first blog in this series to learn about why RIA in partnership with the CIS is undertaking research on digital ID. In the second blog, we explore basic concepts that can help readers understand what we mean when we talk about digital ID. In the third, we travel to India and hear from CIS about what they found when they assessed the Aadhar system using the Evaluation Framework. These introductory blogs are followed by guest contributions from country partners in a series of blogs and interviews that summarise the findings in each country. Read the blogs here.