UAE, National ID Systems and UNDP

For the last few years, UAE has developed comprehensive policies and programmes to establish a National ID system. Institutionally, the country created in 2004 the Emirates ID Authority which has been leading efforts at the national level. In a country with less than 6 million people and average GDP/capita of close to 30,000 USD the task seems cut for purpose. It will be interesting to compare UAE ID policies and programmes with those of India for example, where population and poverty are larger and more pervasive, respectively.

Success has been driving the Authority efforts to become a global leader in National ID systems. Not surprisingly, the 2014 EMEA Summit will have National ID systems as one of its main topics.  UNDESA is involved; and UNDP has been invited to speak.  Here is the agenda.

The CO has been reaching out to HQ to get support in this endeavour. Initial contact was made via RBAS though the DGG elections team who prepared, on it own, a brief on national IDs. I was subsequently contacted by the RC/RR who asked for our direct support. The CO will like to use this opportunity to increase the profile of UNDP in the country and perhaps even help the UAE in its promotion of National ID systems in developing countries. At the meeting however, UNDP will be speaking about ICTs and innovation.

While UNDP is certainly not directly involve in implementing such systems – due in part to the fact that they demand large financial resources, UNDP could bring its e-governance expertise. When it comes to National ID there are at least three areas we can have a role.

The first one if interoperability and Government Interoperability Frameworks (GIFs) and policies that guarantee that the various and diverse public sector networks and databases can effectively talk to each other.

The second issue falls more on the governance side and relates to both privacy and security of personal information. Policies and institutional mechanisms need to be set in place along National ID systems to ensure transparency and avoid abuse.

Finally, South-South cooperation on ICTs and innovation should be factored in when it comes to “transferring” technology and know-how between developing countries. The big issue here is the flexibility large by solutions providers to ensure that applications can be easily localized and do not demand large capital investments. Needless to say, existence of local capacities to absorb incoming technologies is also critical.

Cheers, Raúl


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