Dr. Joseph Atick, Executive Chairman of ID4Africa, and Alan Gelb, CGD Senior Fellow, join Gyude to discuss the evolution of ID systems across Africa, the benefits and risks of digital ID systems, and what African governments can learn from countries like India about what works and what doesn’t.
CGD Policy Blogs
As the COVID-19 pandemic started to exact a toll on lives and livelihoods in early 2020, countries imposed strict lockdowns to stem the spread of infections, disrupting economies and societies across the world. With pandemic-induced constraints on in-person interactions, many countries adopted a “digital first” approach to delivering social assistance, primarily cash transfers.
As economies start opening up, the COVID Vaccine Certificate is increasingly becoming a ticket to return to normality, lifting restrictions on work, travel and leisure. Because of the formidable constraints, any US path to a CVC should start with a light touch.
Technology or Labor Costs? Why Has Africa Missed Out on a Manufacturing Takeoff? And Is Manufacturing Still a Viable Path to Development?
Debates on Sub-Saharan Africa’s development path and prospects often focus on two questions. Looking back, why have countries not experienced the structural transformation towards labor-intensive manufactures that has played such an important a role in the rapid development of Asian countries? And, looking forward, can poor countries still jump onto the escalator of manufactured exports development?
Can technology help? At the most basic level, a COVID ID would be a digitized version of the Yellow Card, the paper-based International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis that many international travelers carry with them traveling to and from high-risk areas of the world.
In response to COVID's economic disruption, many countries launched unprecedented relief packages to cushion the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Social protection measures have grown exponentially. In a new policy paper, we draw on early evidence from selected countries on the use of digital technology to implement these government-to-people (G2P) social transfer programs. Our review suggests that an important objective for policymakers in the post-COVID period will be to build on the capabilities developed during the crisis to strengthen social protection and payment systems and render them more inclusive, effective, and sustainable.
In 2017, Malawi was one of the only countries in the SADC and COMESA without a functioning national registry and identification system. Supported by the United Nations Development Programme together with several other donors, Malawi managed to achieve universal ID coverage in some 180 days, joining the small club of countries that have been able to effect a major leap in the registration of their peoples in a short time. Its experience offers many lessons of interest to other countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for a universal and portable social protection system that can uniquely verify people and deliver benefits efficiently and at scale. In most cases, existing programs are not portable, meaning those who live and work in a place other than where they are registered—like many who have migrated domestically for work—are unable to access benefits.
As shown by the technical underpinnings of its Ehsaas emergency program, Pakistan has all of the necessary building blocks to roll out its digital payments system and expand access to mobile money. It should seize the opportunity.
India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh sustain critical social safety net programs which, despite implementation challenges, deliver social assistance at scale. This blog offers an initial view on the ways in which these programs are being scaled up to provide social assistance during COVID-19.