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A right to identity is a right to a future

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A person’s ability to prove their unique identity is key to their economic, financial and social development. Without proof of identification, individuals are less likely to be able to access value-added services such as healthcare and education, to assert their rights, to vote in elections or to fully participate in the analogue or digital worlds. In 150 countries identification is also crucial to access basic mobile connectivity services. However, according to estimates from the World Bank, one billion people still lack formal identification, with 80 per cent of this population residing in either Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia.

Last year the GSMA joined the call to observe 16 September as International Identity Day. This day of observance was declared by ID4Africa on the basis that identity, and lack of it, should be recognised, and 16 September was selected in tribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 – by 2030 provide legal identity for all including birth registration. The proposition was endorsed by over 1500 delegates and reinforced by a consortium of Coalition Partners calling for the worldwide adoption of an ID Day.

The GSMA Digital Identity programme continues to play a key role in exploring, advocating and raising awareness of the opportunity for mobile to improve access to official identification and identity-linked services. The programme works with MNOs, governments, intergovernmental organisations, private sector partners, non-profit organisations and humanitarian agencies to: conduct research and analysis to better understand the barriers that vulnerable populations face when accessing or using identity; explore sustainable business models and support projects that demonstrate how mobile can accelerate digital identity solutions; and advocate for enabling policy environments that ensure digital identity solutions are inclusive and easily accessible to all.

Our research reports, case studies and policy notes highlight the role mobile can play in closing the global identity gap and our commitment to helping achieving SDG 16.9.

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