Durban: The Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Conference was a resounding success and showed that African countries were working hard to get their civil registration systems in order.
This is according to Home Affairs Minister and African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who also chaired the conference.
The conference, which saw ministers and experts from African countries meeting to discuss progress made with regards to civil registration on the continent and to plan the way forward, drew to a close in Durban on Friday.
Addressing the media at the conference’s conclusion, Dlamini Zuma declared the conference a success, saying a number of decisions were agreed on.
She said the conference had, as promised, assessed the progress made by countries since the first conference in 2010 and the results were pleasing.
“It was very encouraging to find that a lot of countries had implemented a lot of the decisions taken in 2010 and had started or accelerated… work in these areas. But of course, two years is not a long time to implement everything so we were pleased that no country said we didn’t care, we didn’t do anything. Every country tried to do something,” Dlamini Zuma added.
All countries of the African continent, including those that have just emerged from conflicts, were doing their best to make ensure all its citizens were registered.
“There is no country that is just sitting and saying we are in shambles. Every country is doing something and there lots of things also things we [South Africa] can learn…,” she said.
Countries were at different stages when it came to the progress being made, but what was certain was that every country was hard at work.
There had also been a lot of sharing of experience and best practices.
“The continent is really working together in this area. I was very impressed,” she said.
Touching on some of the decisions taken at the conference Dlamini Zuma said one of them was to improve the legal framework when it came to civil registration.
“We need to make sure civil registration is done properly. Everybody in our continent matters. There should be no one who is invisible, who is born and is never record in any legal document until they die,” she added.
The conference agreed to make civil registration and vital statistics a priority, so that governments got to know its citizens and were able to plan and prepare for their development and well-being.
It also called for civil registration to be recognised as a regular operation of government that received a normal budget because in some countries it was not necessarily budgeted for in the central budget.
A decision was also taken to use technology to improve the registration of people and recording vital events in their lives.
“A lot of the recommendations agreed on were basically to strengthen and entrench, to ensure that civil registration became a sustainable operation that will continue all the time,” she said.