World Bank and Accenture Partner on Identity Management Research

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The World Bank and Accenture have partnered on a new report that looks at identity management issues worldwide. The report will be released today at the e-ID Conference, already underway in Washington D.C.

Currently, over 1.8 billion adults in developing countries still lack an official ID and thus access to essential services. The report looks at ways to create and coordinate universal ID programs that will allow individuals access to state-supported services as well as donor-supported services. Creating universal ID systems in all nations is part of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

The World Bank is using 2030 as a target date for providing a legal identity for all people worldwide.

Official identification has been recognized as a human right and as a means of accessing financial services, essential services in one’s home country, and accessing aid and education programs worldwide. The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) agenda has emerged out of this idea. The goal is “making everyone count” by “providing an identity and delivering digital ID-enabled services to all,” according to the report.

“We started about a year ago with this agenda, to change how we were doing business with client countries,” explains Mariana Dahan, a Senior ICT Policy Specialist and ID4D Coordinator, Transport and ICT Global Practice at the World Bank, in an interview with CivSource. “We were surprised to find out how many countries were creating parallel ID systems either at the state level or through donor-based programs. In one example, a country wanted to create an ID system that targeted low-income people so they could receive benefits and other aid. That program ended up targeting 80% of the population. The government was content to only give IDs to 80% of the people, but we were able to work with them and explain why the ID program should be expanded to the rest of the population.”

In another country, some 100 different ID systems were in place with little information sharing between ID programs. The World Bank is now working with the government and those donor-based programs to combine that information into a single ID system.

In order to understand where each country is at in terms of the maturity of its identification systems, the World Bank is collaborating with Accenture Development Partnerships on the report as well as conceptualizing the design and implementation of ID4D programs.

“What we discovered was that every country is really different in terms of how it approaches identification and also in terms of the maturity of the programs,” explains Daniel Baker, Americas lead, Accenture Development Partnerships. A majority of countries have at least one kind of national ID or single-purpose ID like voter registrations, but when it comes to creating a universal digital-ID, the availability of those systems is scattershot at best.

According to Baker, the report is there to help countries understand the spectrum of ID program development and provide recommendations on how to build and integrate a single system.

“This goal is really two goals in one,” adds Dahan. “It is about developing a digital-ID and integrating systems.”

Getting every country on a national digital-ID system by 2030 seems like a tall order in a pretty short amount of time, considering some countries have no system whatsoever. But, Dahan is confident the World Bank will meet its goal. “I am confident we will reach the target by 2030, but we would be aided by greater action on the donor-based program side. We could move things forward faster with a more concerted effort.”