Efforts to establish or improve national identification systems in Africa have coincided with the increasing deployment of mobile technology. This has led to the prioritisation of digital “solutions” for facilitating forms of identification and registration – often via biometric attributes.
With an estimated 500 million people in Africa living without any form of legal identification (World Bank, n.d.), digital identities have become increasingly popular because of their relative ease, low cost, and convenience compared to more analogue systems. These implications are, if anything, underlined by COVID-19 and the ways in which the devastating pandemic has tended to increase the utility of digital technologies on the continent and beyond. Just like a pandemic can offer potentially compelling insights into socio-digital inequality, the state, and citizenship in Africa, digital identity ecosystems also proffer an interesting case study of development practices.
With this background in mind, Research ICT Africa and the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) partnered in 2020 and 2021 to investigate, map, and report on the state of digital identity ecosystems in 10 African countries. The project looked at local, digitised (in full or partially) foundational ID systems in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
This case study concerns an evaluation of digital identity, using the CIS framework, in South Africa, and was conducted by Gabriella Razzano. Her research took place within parameters set by an Evaluation Framework for Digital Identities (the ‘Framework’), which was developed by CIS with the purpose of assessing the alignment of digital identity systems for compliance with international rights and data protection norms. By using this Framework, Razzano evaluated certain aspects of the existing governance and implementation mechanisms of digital identity in their respective and unique contexts.
Besides being an independent case study, the findings from this report were also used to inform a comparative report put together by the RIA and CIS teams to analyse the similarities, differences, and other aspects across the ten case studies – including key recommendations for policymakers, researchers, civil society actors, and other stakeholders – has been produced.
** Download the report below :
|Digital Identity in South Africa|
Razzano, G. (2021). Digital Identity in South Africa: Case study conducted as part of a ten-country exploration of socio-digital ID systems in parts of Africa (Towards the Evaluation of Digital ID Ecosystems in Africa: Findings from Ten Countries) [Case study]. Research ICT Africa (RIA). https://researchictafrica.net/publication/digital-identity-in-south-africa-case-study-conducted-as-part-of-a-ten-country-exploration-of-socio-digital-id-systems-in-parts-of-africa/