I am delighted to announce GSMA Mobile for Development participation in the Commonwealth Digital Identity Initiative, which is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), in partnership with the World Bank and Caribou Digital. This initiative will help provide access to a digitally enabled identity for every woman and girl in the Commonwealth by 2030.
Around the world today there are approximately 1.1 billion people who lack an official form of identification. People without an official identity, most often the poor and marginalised, are unable to access basic services such as health and education, secure fair work and pay, or participate fully in society and democracy. These issues are magnified for women and girls. Mobile technology is uniquely positioned to enable accessible and inclusive digital identity that empowers citizens, protects privacy and stimulates economic and social development.
Providing a digital identity for all women and girls is both a challenge and an opportunity for the Commonwealth, as almost two-thirds of the 1.1 billion people globally without an official form of identification are Commonwealth citizens. This is still very much a nascent field, where barriers exist to the development and adoption of digital identity solutions; uncertain regulatory environments and compliance pressures related to mandatory SIM registration, untested business models and undefined models for collaboration, data security and privacy. If these obstacles are effectively addressed, mobile operators are well-placed to work with partners to deliver innovative and secure digital identity solutions to underserved users.
Our work will include research on barriers to the access and use of identity systems, projects to trial approaches to overcome these barriers and support to countries to bridge the gap on inclusive digital identity systems. We look forward to working with Commonwealth nations on this important initiative and contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.9: ‘By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration’.