Digital Identity in Uganda: Case Study Conducted as Part of a Ten-country exploration of Socio-digital ID Systems in Parts of Africa

The focus of this report is the Ugandan national digital ID project. As governments all over the world attempt to promote the establishment of legal identity systems to promote better planning for welfare and service delivery, it is important to evaluate the impact of these efforts on human rights, democracy, privacy and their economy. In the course of preparing this report, we evaluated the legitimate purpose behind Uganda’s national digital identity programme and the legal and administrative systems put in place to oversee it. The programme is administered primarily by the National Identification and Registration Authority, which was set up under the Registration of Persons Act in 2015 to promote the Ugandan government’s plan to improve security and welfare planning and delivery. The scheme is also, to a lesser extent, regulated by National Information Technology Authority Uganda, under the auspices of the Data Protection and Privacy Act of 2019. Some of the issues evaluated in the report include the over-collection of personal data as part of the registration process and the inadequacy of the current data protection safeguards. Our report also revealed that there is a high potential for mission creep in the set-up of the system, evidenced by the government’s decision to share the collected data with members of the police force and private telecommunications businesses. Also of note is the alarming prevalence of exclusionary practices against societal minorities such as women, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged. It is hoped that this evaluation of and recommendations for Uganda’s national ID system would be useful to the Ugandan government and will guide and provide insight for future policy deliberations.

31 October 2021