Fellow Citizens. Today is the 6th Annual Commemoration of the Africa Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day. The Africa CRVS Day was set aside by the African Union as a special commemoration day to reflect and strategize as well as raise consciousness on the relevance of CRVS in modern day. The Theme for this year is The potential to increase coverage, improve quality and timeliness of data through digitalization of civil registration systems”. This is the Sixth Africa CRVS Day celebrated during the 14th year since the establishment of the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS). CRVS Day was adopted by the 32nd ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council in 2018 as a vehicle to enhance advocacy on the importance of CRVS Systems for Africa’s growth. It is also an occasion to voice support to country, regional and global commitments to strengthen CRVS Systems and increase stakeholder coordination to maximize available CRVS resources. This year’s celebration commits African Countries to transform and modernize their CRVS systems though digitalization. The theme for this year focuses on digitization and the role it plays in CRVS to provide identity services for the use of governance, health, education, public administration, social protection, requiring identification of citizens and clients to do their businesses.

Why is this important?

Digitalization of CRVS systems in Africa has been the subject of discussions at several Conferences of Ministers responsible for CRVS since 2017. UNECA, as the Secretariat of APAI- CRVS, was encouraged to lead the development of common ICT assets to support effective CRVS systems across Africa, ensuring the highest standards of data protection and confidentiality of personal data, in order to promote interoperability among civil registration, health and identity management systems, to meet the needs of all African countries. At COM5 in 2019 in Lusaka, African Member States were encouraged to strengthen investment in digitization to facilitate interoperability between

identity management systems and National Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems, within a framework of a strong data protection policy, as well as take steps to ensure the widespread recognition of identity documents issued to persons in need of international protection. The issue of accelerating efforts to set up integrated safe, innovative, and cost-effective digitalized CRVS systems in Africa took centre stage during the Expert segment of the 6th Conference of African Ministers Responsible for Civil Registration. To advance African countries towards attaining SDG16.9, digitalization has been placed at the forefront of CRVS system strengthening.

Specifically, the Experts agreed to:

(i) Actively pursue the digitalization of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems to harness their full potential, enhancing registration coverage and outreach.

(ii) Strengthen the safety and security of data-sharing practices and interoperability between systems.

(iii) Take into consideration key legal and regulatory frameworks and the information technology and infrastructure in place at the national level in their efforts to modernize and digitalize Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems, according to central priority 2 to data safety and security, system integrity, the clarity of data ownership and data availability.

(iv) Take into consideration the available technical and resource capabilities when planning, procuring and implementing digital technologies which should include ensuring well-developed business processes.

(v) Develop the technical capacity of essential personnel to understand, manage and sustain systems use, thereby avoiding extensive reliance on solution providers and potential vendor lock-in.

As we commemorate the Sixth Africa CRVS Day, African countries are encouraged to advance the digitalization of civil registration data as part of the critical digital public infrastructure to promote the interlinkage and use of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics data and identification data across Government Agencies. Digitalization of the CRVS processes from notification to certification transforms Civil Registration from slow, passive, and reactive systems that depend on in-person attendance to systems that are resilient, proactive and agile. Technology provides the platform for interoperability and real-time data sharing for efficient governance and e-commerce. Furthermore, digitalization establishes links between Civil Registration authorities and the health sector so that vital events occurring in health institutions can be formally reported to the Civil Registration authorities. This strategy of active notification by the health sector will reduce the number of in-person visits demanded of family members and especially for events occurring in health facilities, alleviate the burden of families having to travel to Civil Registration Offices. Active notification by health Agents will improve the registration of events that are missed by Civil Registration Systems such as deaths in infancy as well as the under-registration of female deaths that has been observed in a number of settings.

Progress made in Sierra Leone so far.

On this day, 10th August 2023, all African Countries commit, as agreed from COM4 to COM6 to actively pursue the digitalization of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems to harness their full potential, enhancing registration coverage and outreach.

In Sierra Leone, the NCRA with support from the GoSL and Partners; namely the European Union, Irish Aid, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and Plan International Sierra Leone has in the past few years accelerated the digitalization of CRVS records, past and current, with the following achievements to date:

(i) Commenced the digitalization of old births and deaths records from the 1800’s to enable the generation of e-copies for ease of archiving and retrieval, as well as to stop the manipulation of identity documentation and dynamism for selfish and fraudulent reasons.

(ii) With support from the European Union through UNOPS, upgraded the CRVS system to an ultra-modern standard capable of storing and processing identity data and interoperate with multiple E-Systems of Government and other Partner institutions.

(iii) With support from the European Union through UNOPS, established a state of the art, first in its kind in the Sub region Tier III Primary Data Centre for electronic vaulting of data in the CRVS System in case of natural or other disasters and to safeguard data offsite.

(iv) With support from UNICEF, introduced new Securitized Registration Credentials and Instruments that are counterfeit proof to eliminate fake Certificates.

(v) With support from the Irish Aid and the UNDP, introduced a secured enterprise Data Extraction, Transformation and Loading layer (ETL) for seamless transfer of data of eligible citizens between the NCRA and the ECSL for the update of Voter Register as and when anyone attains the prescribed age to participate in pubic elections (18+).

(vi) Similar support from the Irish Aid and UNDP covered the provision of Fibre connectivity between the NCRA and the ECSL for seamless synchronization of data to update the Voter Register.

(vii) With support from the Government of Sierra Leone, launched an ID Verification Platform since March 2022, as approved by Cabinet and Ratified by Parliament with access to services linked to the unique identifier which is the NIN generated by the CRVS and Identity Management System. Since then, access to services  including enlistment into Social Security Scheme, Vehicle Registration and Licenses, Immigration Services, enrolment into Public and Civil Service as well as placement into the Centralized Government Payroll System, Business and Tax Administration, SIM Card Registration, Land and Property Registration, Enrolment into Academic Institutions, e-KYC for Financial Institutions and Credit Reference Checks to enhance financial inclusion, enrolment for Public Examinations, Work and Resident Permits among many others have been tied to the NIN.

With all these advances, I am happy to say that Sierra Leone is far ahead of many other African Nations in the digitalization of the CRVS and ID Management System. Nevertheless, there is need to keep the momentum in advancing the digitalization of all processes involved in identity services across the country.  Notable among these is the need to support the rolling out of Births and Deaths Registration beyond Districts to communities. This will require attracting and retaining more skilled personnel, internet connectivity and electricity or solar power supply in addition to essential IT equipment and sustained public education necessary for digitalization to hold.


Let me end by thanking the GoSL especially His Excellency the President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, a CRVS Champion in Africa whose commitment to meeting UN SDG Target 16.9 by 2030, (provide legal identity for all, including birth registration) has remained steadfast, unwavering and focused.  We wish on behalf of the Government, the Board and Management of the NCRA to thank the EU, UNICEF, Irish Aid, UNDP, UNFPA, Plan International and other Partners, for their support to the process of modernizing the CRVS system and gradually moving it from a manual paper-based system to one that is in line with the AU vision to fully digitize CRVS systems across the Continent. Special thanks to the UNFPA for their support towards this year’s Commemoration of the Africa CRVS Day.

I thank you all for your attention.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.