The automation of Ghana’s birth registration process, a programme spear headed by the Births and Deaths Registry, UNICEF and the Mobile Network Operator, Tigo, won the ‘Changing Lives Award’ at the just ended AfricaCom 2016 Awards in Cape Town, South Africa.
AfricaCom is the biggest gathering of all African telecom service providers and vendors to network, showcase and discuss new and emerging technologies. It also celebrates the contributions of outstanding operators.
Commenting on the award, the Country Representative of UNICEF, Susan Namondo Ngongi, was happy that the partnership was yielding great results. “Birth registration is a fundamental human right and an important national exercise for inclusion and social protection. When we are able to identify children, the country can effectively plan in terms of resource mobilization and distribution. We are also able to protect them from exploitation including child marriage and labour,” she emphasized.
The CEO for Tigo and 2015 AfricaCom CEO of the Year recipient, Roshi Motman, was grateful to UNICEF and the Government of Ghana for the consistent support. “Digital inclusion is an important focus for us and we will continue to look for innovative ways to integrate technology to create and scale up social good. The outcomes of this programme so far has been very impressive, together we are replacing the manual service with an effective and efficient process that ensures that every child is accounted for,” she added.
“The Births and Deaths registry is happy to note that through the collaborative efforts with Tigo and UNICEF, we are gradually overcoming the challenges associated with the manual registration of new births. Since the launch of the programme in May 2016, supervision has been made easier as senior officials are able to log into the system and verify which district and region has not up-loaded data since the last check. The programme promises good prospects of changing the face of birth registration and improved coverage in Ghana,” said the Registrar for Births and Deaths, John Agbeko.
In May 2016, UNICEF, Tigo and the Births and Deaths Registry officially launched the automation of birth registration in Ghana after months of testing and training to digitize the manual process. The programme which is already being piloted in 300 communities across the country, has reduced paper work and travel time among officials of the Births and Deaths registry. It provides information in real time and digitally stores birth registration documents.
The Mobile Birth Registration Android App collects data related to a child’s name, gender, date of birth and other family details. This is then sent to a central database managed by the Births and Deaths Registry Once data is collected, a Birth certificate is issued to parents by Registry officers. The data is verified at national level and used for various vital statistics analysis.
Data collected through the paper-based system could take up to six months to be entered into the central system, whereas the Mobile Birth Registration process achieves this in less than two minutes.
The project has received a lot of support and commendation from various stakeholders. In September 2016, it was showcased at the ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ event on the margins of the 71st UN General Assembly by the GSMA, the trade group that represents network operators who use GSM technology.