ICTs change civil data capturing in SADC

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Lilongwe - SADC countries are increasingly using ICTs to improve capturing of key citizen data such as births and deaths.

A recent technical brief by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on the African Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems (APAI-CRVS) notes huge gaps in capturing such vital data, but acknowledges that ICTs are helping bridge them through a system dubbed e-notification.

"The global proliferation of mobile phones and cellular network connectivity is increasingly being leveraged, in particular in settings where resources are limited to drive the development and use of digital Civil Registration Systems.

"With their access to mobile phones, community based individuals such as civil registrars, community leaders, community health workers and village elders can serve as notifiers, thereby helping to extend the coverage of civil registration systems to underserved rural and remote regions, and also in contexts where civil registration centres are not accessible," reads part of the brief. 

The statistics assist policymakers those responsible for implementation to facilitate local and national development imperatives.

According to the UN, only 68 percent of countries in the world register at least 90 percent of births. Furthermore, only 55 percent of countries capture at least 90 percent of deaths.

To improve these statistics, Southern African countries are implementing e-notification.

In Mozambique, the National Directorate of Registries and Notaries is rolling out an electronic information management system using USSD, SMS and a web-based interface to register births and deaths.

People can input data on their mobile phones and the information is authenticated authorised registrars.

In Namibia, the Department of Civil Registration and the Department of Public IT Service Management have developed the e-National Population Registration Systems (e-NPRS) to capture births and deaths data.

The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa is using mobile technologies such as SMS to verify marital status with a view to stopping fraudulent marriages. 

The Registration Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA) of Tanzania worked with Tigo Mobile to develop an application that allows a registrar capture data on a cellular phone and transmit it to the central database in a matter of seconds. It also allows a birth certificate to be processed instantaneously.

Civil registration offices in Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho and Zimbabwe are using SMS-based services to inform citizens of progress in registration and passport issuance processes.

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