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From June 2 to June 4 next year, Morocco’s Ministry of Interior will host ID4Africa on behalf of Morocco, the organization has announced. The sixth meeting, billed under the theme “Identity 360,” will see Morocco hosting government delegates from all over Africa, biometrics and digital vendors, international organizations, civil society, as well as other vested stakeholders in identity management.

Naming Morocco on the last day of this year’s ID4Africa meeting in Johannesburg, ID4Africa Executive Director Dr. Joseph Atick said, “We are very excited to be in Morocco for our 6th year, a country where identity development is at a high pace and exemplifies our 2020 theme – Identity 360. ID4Africa will engage a multi-view perspective on identity that will bring into focus the various stakeholders involved in the identity ecosystem, and their complementary perspectives.”

Omar El Alami, Head of Information Systems for the Strategy Division of the Ministry of Morocco, accepted the responsibility on his country’s behalf, as a symbolic handshake between him and South Africa’s ID4Africa Ambassador signified the torch-passing. Thanking 2019 hosts South Africa for its hospitality, El Alami found the panels qualitative and engaging, and hoped to replicate it in Morocco next year. “On behalf of the Ministry of Interior,” he said to a hall of guests, “we would like to extend warm hospitalities to all of you to take part in ID4Africa 2020. We are humbled by the gesture and to be receiving you in our beloved country.”

Dr. Atick had said in Johannesburg that more African governments need to quit making technology excuses as their reason for not working towards a solid collective national identity, digital or otherwise, saying “we need to lift the political will.” One of the policy suggestions by experts at the meeting was that governments should step away from identity management, or at least should no longer be the sole issuer of IDs. It should invest in more partnerships with digital specialists who have integrity-strong data platforms, and are more likely to be trusted by citizens. More than anything else, there was a deliberate attempt to center Africa, for the continent to make its own decisions and not follow.

According to biometrics, things to expect in Marrakesh includes formalizing pan-African bodies covering the identity sector, privacy, trust frameworks and greater involvement by the ICT sector, telecommunication companies and civil society. ID4Africa will hold at the Movenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi & Palais des Congres in Marrakesh.

ID4Africa represents an opportunity for African governments to make sure no citizen is left behind in this renewed bid for documenting the continent’s 500 million invisible people. It aims to promote digital identity and facilitate Africa-centred engagements for the identity community.

By Caleb Ajinomoh

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