Durban: Progress being made by African countries with regards to civil registration and vital statistics will be assessed and decisions made on the way forward when African ministers meet on Thursday.
Home Affairs Minister and chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said that in addition to monitoring progress, ministers and delegates at the 2nd Civil Registration and Vital Statistics conference would also ensure that all the countries were moving in the same direction.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, ahead of the start of the ministerial conference on Thursday, she highlighted the significance of the gathering.
“This is an important conference because up to now, there hasn’t been a uniform or comprehensive civil registration in all the countries on the continent.”
Proper civil registration systems and accurate vital statistics played a vital role in developing countries when planning for development.
“If you don’t register a birth, marriage or death you don’t know what is going on in the country with the population and the citizens,” said Dlamini Zuma.
In addition, civil registration and vital statistics provided the opportunity to generate and enable the monitoring and progress towards national and international development goal and targets.
Civil registration and vital statistics were important for the integration agenda of the continent, a concept which was not just about infrastructure but also about people, Dlamini Zuma said.
“This is a very important exercise. The conference will look at progress and make sure we are moving together, because when we integrate…it will be easier to we have the same framework,” she said.
The progress made by African countries since the last conference will be evaluated.
“We will be assessing what progress each country has made and then make sure we accelerate and galvanise everyone towards implementation,” said Dlamini Zuma.
In addition, problem areas and constraints will be identified and countries will exchange experiences.
South Africa will also be looking at how it can improve its own systems as well as sharing with the rest of Africa its best practices, she said.
Dr Dimitri Sanga, Director at the African Centre for Statistics at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said an assessment done of the countries showed quite diverse results and that in some countries, birth registration figures stood at less than 10%.
With these figures in hand, the conference will now have something to work with to determine how much needs to be done.
“What we will be proposing to the ministers will be to say maybe for those countries in which birth registration is below 10%, we would like them in five years to be at 30%,” he said.
With the assessment done and targets set, the next step would be identifying the countries grappling with the problem and then decide how to support them to reach their targets.
One of the constraints, he singled out, was that in some African countries, the legislative framework with regards to civil registration dated back to the colonial period.