Calling all innovators! Help achieve ‘Good ID’ for the world’s invisible billion


This page in:

© Daniel Silva Yoshisato
© Daniel Silva Yoshisato

An estimated one billion people around the world – half of which are in Africa – lack official identification to prove who they are. And many millions more have forms of identification that cannot be reliably verified or authenticated. More than 450 million of these are children who have not had their birth registered. Women and the poor in low-income countries are less likely to have official identification.

Without a trusted and secure way to prove their identity, the poorest and most vulnerable face challenges in accessing healthcare, education, and financial services, as well as opportunities that can improve their economic and social mobility. 

Take for example Miriam, a cross-border trader from Uganda, who makes her livelihood by buying and selling goods at markets on either side of the border with Kenya. Life was hard and risky for many women like Miriam who had no official proof of identity – let alone a passport. They had to cross borders irregularly to make a living, making them more vulnerable to exploitation, theft, and violence. In 2015, Miriam received her first national ID card through a mass registration that Uganda launched a year earlier. The following year, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda entered into an agreement that recognized each other’s national ID cards as valid travel documents.
These changes transformed Miriam’s life. With an ID, she was able to open a bank account and cross the border through regular channels, which has helped her to grow her business. This has also reduced the costs of trade and enabled her to send her goods to other parts of East Africa. Because Miriam can reliably assert her identity, it is easier for her to access financial services, to obtain a mobile phone, to take part in the digital economy – opportunities that were out of reach before.
Mission Billion challenge
While there are tremendous benefits associated with digital identification, there are also data protection and privacy risks when it is not supported with sound legal and regulatory foundations and intentional design.  This is why the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative has launched the Mission Billion innovation challenge.
The aim is to tap on the world’s innovators for new ideas to tackle some of the toughest challenges developing countries face when introducing digital identification and civil registration systems, in particular, protecting privacy and empowering people to control their personal data. The Challenge offers cash prizes totaling US$100,000 with the top prize of US$50,000 for the most promising solutions that are practical and relevant for developing countries  – which face circumstances such as low or unreliable connectivity or low levels of literacy.
Promoting ‘Good ID’
In 2014, the World Bank Group established the Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative, which helps countries to realize the transformational potential of digital identification and civil registration. The initiative already provides technical assistance and financing to more than 40 countries, and almost $1 billion have been mobilized for this work, working closely with partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Australian Government and the Omidyar Network, other development partners and the private sector.

Beyond reaching the invisible billion, the partners are committed to also strengthen privacy and provide people with control over their data, along with inclusion and choice. These are the tenets of the ‘Good ID’ movement, which promotes digital identification systems that maximize developmental impact while minimizing the risks.
The ID4D initiative continues to proactively walk the talk of the ‘Good ID’ movement: from bringing together a community to develop the 10 Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development which is a guiding framework that outlines what ‘Good ID’ looks like in practice; to supporting the development of comprehensive legal frameworks of data protection and privacy in our client countries; to helping countries adopt inclusive consultative practices for marginalized groups, including the disabled in the design and operations of digital identification systems; and publishing knowledge resources and advising government to adopt context appropriate and open standards with the aim of preventing vendor and technology lock-in.
Calling all innovators!
Digital identification is a key tool for ending extreme poverty and promoting the inclusion of the world’s invisible people.  This agenda will only gain pace, and the international community must keep up with this momentum, while also adapting in an ever-changing environment. While much has been done, much more remains. Mission Billion is an exciting opportunity to strengthen this work to realize the full potential of what ‘Good ID’ can accomplish.  However, we need your ideas to tackle these tough challenges. We call on all innovators, creative thinkers, engaged citizens and all those who are passionate about development to contribute to the Mission Billion Challenge, to help ensure that ‘Good ID’ is not only a principle, but also a reality for all.

rafed abdulkarim
December 14, 2018

The digital ID of the person must be developed into an electronic tranche carrying a CV for each person in every stage of their life
At the beginning of the educational stages and all his business dealings for all bank balances and banking
Per accounts e A national and international identity is complemented by special systems through international organizations

Dare William
December 15, 2018

This is a brilliant idea. This is what we need in our country, Nigeria because we don't have the database of all our citizens. This gives room to the influx of Foreigners Into our country who come at will to perpetuate evils and go Score free.

Wambugu Githaiga
December 16, 2018

Congratulations for such thoughts and initiative as we are truelly headed to a new paradigm shift. Our global focus in Africa is destined to Economic Liberation whose inclusivity should be devoid of naive,weird negative and primitive political persuasions.A united peaceful cohesive society will be able to absolve technology and embrace innovations for the betterment of our Global Society!!

Ajay Mahajan
December 19, 2018

Something similar was undertaken in the city of New Delhi in India under the Mission Convergence program where The World Bank was also involved. It started with the re-definition of the Underprivileged by going beyond the traditional annual income threshold and was modified to include various other socio-economic factors. This was followed by an on-ground mapping of the population including the homeless and a new database was created. Can share more details with those who are interested.

Tolulope Oyemade
December 20, 2018

I am so happy about this initiative. And I truly hope that the government and people in each African nation would provide the needed support for this initiatives.

Abdul-hameed Bankole
December 21, 2018

Identity Management is both a necessary condition and a prerequisite to have when implementing social policies such as education funding through loans and health insurance, which are critical to human capital development. It's almost unrealistic and impracticable for Developing countries in Africa and Latin America to do these without a holistic identity management systems which does not exclude anyone.

December 22, 2018

This is a welcomed strategy for a Nation's speedy recovery from any derailment in terms of fostering Economical growth. This will reposition a country and countries into gaining equilibrium. I solely vouch for this. If we look at some African countries today, most of the citizens in it don't have a material for identifying themselves, and whenever they go out of their geographical entity for any profitable business, they are limited to certain trade due to lack of Identification. This occurs mostly on those who lack knowledge about it. The Identification for Development Initiatives should actively engage in a mass mobilization of its members or agents for proactive measures on adequate orientation to the world in order to encourage rapid growth and relation between countries of the world...

Calvin Mugume
December 24, 2018

My country Uganda has made some reasonable footsteps towards achieving this but the challenges are glaring and a much needed help from WBG comes in handy.

Angel LENA
December 27, 2018

Create an optional contribution for companies (tax deducible) for funding free ids expedition for the poor in the countries more needed.

Tumba John
December 27, 2018

This initiative will filled the gap we are having with NIMS in Nigeria because is not easy for a ordinary people to have one. I enrolled in April 2014 till date, I didn't receive my ID.

Edgardo Rozenknopf
December 27, 2018

Its Very easy all the money go directly to the poblation in Tangible Projects No Money to Government.

December 31, 2018

Great deal of thinking....

Fazal Ur Rahman
January 14, 2019

Good ID is very good step towards sustainable development goal because without identity there is no rights for human.. When people don't have ID card then they can't access to the facilities provided by government. I want to give you an idea that how we can give identity to all those who are not identified... So my request is that you must work with their countries educational minister to make system of identification in all educational institutes of their country..

adeboye adeyemi....
February 02, 2019

what are benefits surrounding this initiative and what improvement is targed for improvement?

Augusto Herrmann
December 19, 2018

It is very important that this initiative is calling for ideas for a digital ID while also taking into consideration the protection of the privacy of citizens.
Some countries are implementing official Digital IDs for their citizens based on apps that are installed on the smartphone. I see that as a worrying trend. That could become a very hazardous window for total government surveillance on the lives of every citizen. There are other means to do digital ID without having to install an app. On the other hand, if the digital identity is really to be based on a smartphone app, it should at least be open source and allow people to compile their own application and therefore audit it for bugs (both in the surveillance and software engineering senses).
A project that I consider to be a good practice in providing a digital identity while also respecting the user's privacy is the Mozilla Persona project. Unfortunately, it was cancelled in 2016 after failing to gain traction.

December 27, 2018

Congratulations once more on such an essential need for a proper identification, which is a natural right of each and every human being all across the world. A #GoodID is to be just clear enough to thoroughly protect its holder worldwide. It should be linked to the user's national identification database, which is to be connected with a UN world database just as a matter of integral guarantee when any given nation lacks of a national one.

December 28, 2018

It's such a great initiative. We really need it in this part of the world (Africa, Nigeria) where we hardly can make available an accurate estimated population of our citizens. We don't have a database as a nation.
My Opinion, the process has to be crude and mechanical. Because most of these places are not reached with internet services, the roads are hardly accessible and the level of illiteracy is too high. So, it would take a lot of sensitization, house to house meetings and so on to get it done.
Great initiative.

SYED DMursalin
December 29, 2018

I am quite impressed with this work and keen to collaborate. CRVS Adviser Pakistan.

Achison kefas
December 29, 2018

This is a very good idea, but I believe must of the rural dwellers are ignorant of digital ID, so high level of awareness should be done about the importance of digital ID, then it should serve as means to gaining public basic social amenities such as schools, primary health care etc. By such doing, must people will be involved in having digital ID in developing countries.

Musa Abdulkadir Mohammed
December 30, 2018

This is indeed a great idea.

Goodfell Mushitu
December 30, 2018

It's a nice idea, we need such in our country Zambia.

Tukur Danjuma Bk
December 30, 2018

One of the best entery point for this programme is 1. It should be taken to the primary healthcare centres
2. local community leaders for better implementation.
3. Community religious leaders and centres
4. Local market leaders e.t.c