Remarks by Lionel Laurens, RC a.i. - Hand over of ICT Equipment to Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security
The Honorable Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Mr. Jack Mwiimbu, MP
The Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the Embassy of Japan, Mr. OMINATO Satoshi
- The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr. Dickson Matembo
- The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Professor Lackson Kasonka
- Representatives from the Bilateral Partners
- The UNICEF Representative, a.i. Ms Malti Ghandi
- The Registrar General in the Department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship, Mrs. Brenda Banda
- INRIS Project Manager/Director ICT NAPSA, Dr. Greg Chola Nsofu
- Representatives from various government departments
- The Media
- Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
Let me start by thanking the leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security and key partners such as the Ministry of Health and E-Government Division for the fruitful collaboration with the United Nations System on the “Legal Identity for All” project in Zambia which is being funded by the Government of Japan.
I also wish to thank and acknowledge the commitment of the government in rolling out the Integrated National Registration System (INRIS) which sets the tone for the work going forward. I am happy to note that this is aligned with the United Nations Legal Identity Agenda 2020–2030 meant to bring the United Nations Development System together in support of Member States to build holistic, country-owned, sustainable civil registration, vital statistics, and identity management systems.
Allow me to also take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Government of Japan whose generous funding --under the Legal Identity for All Project -- enabled the UN System in particular UNDP and UNICEF to contribute to Government efforts to guarantee the fundamental right to identity, entitlement, and enjoyment of full citizenship in Zambia.
UNDP and UNICEF worked with the Government of Zambia to deliver this robust project with key primary components, namely:
1. Strengthening the digitalization of civil registration system and identity management;
2. Strengthening the capacity of health facilities to register vital events; and
3. Awareness raising campaigns highlighting the importance and benefits of civil registration and legal identity.
This included the procurement of 116 biometric kits for all districts in the country including Internet connectivity devices and signature pads for 25 health facilities in selected districts, and 3 thermography equipment -- for temperature checks -- to manage COVID-19 in public spaces as citizens access national ID, birth and death certificates.
Further, through the various modes of campaigns, a total of 3.2 million people in Lusaka, exceeding the target of 2 million were reached with messages on the importance and procedures for Birth Registration.
Honourable Minister -
Despite these solid investments and achievements coupled by your Ministry’s progress in revising legislation, development of key policy documents and strategies, and strengthened coordination with other line ministers, we can collectively do more to address SDG Target 16.9 that refers to providing legal identity for all including free birth registrations by 2030.
Many countries are lagging in meeting this target, which typically translates into the most vulnerable segments of society without legal identity. The UN views the INRIS as a great opportunity to increase birth registration which according to the 2018 Demographic and Health Survey currently stands at 14.3% for the Under 5s.
Legal identity provides all people with the foundation to fulfill human rights – health, financial access, education, social protection, right to vote, among others. Collectively, therefore, we need to do more to improve coordination across all levels and mobilize resources to ensure full roll out of INRIS. We note that to attain these aspirations, the government’s estimated budget over the next few years is approximately USD 60 million. Attainment of this resource envelope will require significant investment from government, local and international partners. Building on the current partnerships, we therefore need strong joint action from sector ministries, and other key arms of government and the private sector.
As we have demonstrated in neighboring countries such as Malawi, the UN System is ready and committed to work with cooperating partners and the private sector under the strong leadership of the government to improve the management of civil registry and national identity and issuance of new biometric enabled National Registration Cards. We note from the Malawian example that three key drivers of success and sustained effectiveness are required: commitment, coordination, and cooperation among all stakeholders.
The UN commends the government for coming up with INRIS which will allocate and assign a unique identity number at birth registration stage. This will ultimately create demand for birth registration services and help attain the 50% target that government has put in the 8th National Development Plan for Under 5 Birth.
Furthermore, we encourage the government to equally take advantage of the health sector in increasing birth registration. As we know, 84% of births in Zambia occur in health facilities. The health sector is therefore a critical and key point of occurrence for births which, if fully utilized, can help Zambia to even surpass the 50% 2026 target.
In the last 8 years, the UN has consistently supported the government in this area and a foundation has already been laid with over 800 health facilities offering birth notification services. The expansion of this service and ensuring that every health facility offers birth notification services will be a key milestone for Zambia.
Ladies and gentlemen - It is without question that the successful implementation of the Integrated National Information System is a gamechanger with potential to catalyze broad and transformative results.
The drive by the government to implement INRIS is timely given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed COVID-19 has shown us valuable lessons especially in ensuring that electronic services are offered to avoid disrupting service provision during pandemics or emergencies. In this regard, today’s handover of the ICT equipment for use in district offices of the Department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship (DNRPC), hospitals and health facilities will significantly contribute to ensuring continuation of birth registration, national identity registration and information sharing services even in times of crisis.
In conclusion, allow me to again thank the Zambian Government for the opportunity to partner on this important project. Let me also thank the people of Japan for their generous financial contribution.
As we collectively work towards the implementation of Integrated National Registration System, we must ensure that no one is left behind, particularly women, children, persons with disabilities and refugees.
I thank you.