Today, we are faced with a global challenge - that of the invisible. More than 1.1 billion people globally lack a government-recognized identity. This means that they face barriers to access employment, formal financial services or even a mobile phone. They are deprived of social benefits, denied constitutional rights and excluded from the economic mainstream. Countries, particularly those still in the throes of economic and social development, are grappling with building robust foundational ID systems as they face policy and technological choices and implementation challenges. They also struggle with a host of issues such as establishing uniqueness and interoperability, ensuring security, privacy, and data protection, scalability, and affordability among others.
International Institute of Information Technology – Bangalore (IIIT-B), as part of its endeavour to promote open source applications for societal development, created Modular Open Source Identification Platform (MOSIP) as a digital public good.
Built on a bedrock of principles such as scalability, security, and privacy, MOSIP with its modular architecture, customizability and configurability offers countries the flexibility to build digital foundational ID systems based on their specific needs. The use of open standards and open source ensures that MOSIP is agnostic to specific applications, programming languages and platforms, and prevents vendor lock-in.
In its ongoing efforts to modernize its existing identification program - the Kebelle ID card - and drive critical digital transformation initiatives leveraging unique identities of individuals, the Government of Ethiopia has been exploring ways to set up digital platforms based on interoperable digital identity systems.
As a concrete and formal step in this direction, on 19th June 2020, an MoU was signed between IIIT-B represented by the MOSIP faculty coordinator , Professor S Rajagopalan, and the Ministry of Peace - Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (GoE-MoP), represented by the Minister of Peace, Her Excellency Muferihat Kamil, at a virtual MoU signing ceremony. Professor S Sadagopan, Director, IIIT-B, presided over the occasion.
Her Excellency Meferihat Kamil emphasized the critical enabling role MOSIP would play in helping build the National Identity Program (NIP) for the Government of Ethiopia. She said, “The ID program is being designed in such a way that it caters to the digital future of service delivery, enabling online authentication and establishing uniqueness across regions, cities and sectors. We have endorsed the policy and governance documents for the program, and efforts to draft a data privacy law are also ongoing. A small-scale pilot project which we are launching today is necessary for launching a program of such scale for a country with a population of more than 100 million. It would enable us to assess the challenge, correct inaccuracies as well as transfer knowledge.”
Through this cooperation, MOSIP will support the Government of Ethiopia to evaluate, customize, and adapt MOSIP to its requirements. The pilot will enable the Government of Ethiopia to make technical and policy choices, and design an implementation blueprint for the National Identity Program at full scale while bolstering the local Identity expertise and experts.
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