Sigve Brekke, CEO of Telenor Group, said lack of ID was one of the biggest stumbling blocks to digital inclusion. Speaking at yesterday’s keynote session – Creating a Better Future for Everyone – the CEO highlighted that 1.1 billion people in the world do not have an official ID.
“In the eyes of government they basically don’t exist,” said Brekke. “Think about what that means when it comes to rights on medical care and education. Think about what that means when governments are planning schools, hospitals or doctors. Think how important it is for new-born kids to have an ID, so we can fight child marriage, child labour and child trafficking.”
Telenor is addressing the ID problem in emerging markets where it has a presence, with special focus on Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar.
In Pakistan, in cooperation with UNICEF, Brekke explained that children can now be registered using a specially-designed mobile app. After details such as name and data of birth are logged in, it is sent to the personal ID database. An SMS is then sent in reply with an ID number.
Telenor’s plan is to register 700,000 children in Pakistan during 2018. In the coming two to three years, said Brekke, the plan is to register 7 million children across Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar with the relevant authorities in each country.
The scale of the problem Telenor is tackling is vast. In Pakistan alone there are 60 million people not registered, but it’s something that the CEO is keen to address. “Digital inclusion starts with ID,” he said.
Another area where Telenor is helping governments, NGOs and aid agencies is the ability to depict the movement of people – using anonymised data – on special maps where higher concentrations of light indicate greater density of people. In this way, aid efforts in times of disaster or emergency can be better directed.
Enrica Porfcari, CIO of the World Food Programme, said working with mobile operators and exploiting big data to determine where people are was key in providing food assistance to where it is needed most.