AU Interoperability Framework for Digital ID

Published: 1/Feb/2022
Source: African Union

Millions of people in Africa lack legal identification (ID), and many more have IDs that are not fit for purpose in the digital age. As a result, they are facing challenges to access services and opportunities being created through digitalisation. Therefore, interoperable, trusted and inclusive digital foundational IDs, which provide people with the ability to verify their legal identity offline and online, can help to address those challenges and have significant potential to accelerate the digitalisation of African economies and societies by supporting entrepreneurship and contributing to the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It is for these reasons that most African countries are currently modernising their ID ecosystems, although they are at different stages of doing so.

The AU Interoperability Framework for Digital ID (the Framework) sets out a vision that will enable all African citizens to easily and securely access the public and private services they need, when they need them, and independently of their location. To this end, the Framework defines common requirements, minimum standards, governance mechanisms, and alignment among legal frameworks. Its objectives include the need to:
1. allow African citizens to verify their legal identity offline and online to access public and private sector services in AU Member States. This can contribute to continental unity and integration for sustained growth, trade, exchanges of goods, services, free movement of people and capital by establishing a united Africa and fast-tracking economic integration through AfCFTA, as stated in aspiration 2 of the Agenda 2063;
2. empower African citizens with control over their personal data, including the ability to selectively disclose only attributes that are required for a particular transaction. Personal information that is disclosed should be minimal, proportionate, only contain the information relevant to that specific transaction, in line with international best practices;1 and
3. strengthen trust and interoperability among foundational identification systems of AU Member States.

The Framework provides for a common standard at the continental level to represent, digitally, the proofs of identity issued by trusted sources from AU Member States and to ensure interoperability throughout the continent. Individuals who hold an ID from a national system will be able to obtain an interoperable, digital credential for legal identity (IDC-ID) that will take the form of a verifiable claim2 . Standards will be established for the interoperability framework that will define key elements of the IDC-ID. These standards will operate to demonstrate trust in the IDC-ID as created under the governance of a Trust Framework that defines the conditions under which trusted sources from the AU Member States will issue such credentials.


Themes: ID Documents and Passports
Regions: Pan Africa
Year: 2022