In Kyrgyzstan, the political commitment for digitization creating an unified population register stemmed from the realization that reform could solve some of Kyrgyzstan’s most pressing political and governance issues.
Estimates indicate that introducing the register will result in savings of up to USD 300 million per year in the national budget.
According to a case study on Kyrgyzstan, strong political commitment and government funding can enable traditional paper-based identity systems to be transformed into highly integrated digitized systems within several years. The country study is part of a compendium of good practices for advancing SDG target 16.9 (provide legal identity for all, including birth registration) published by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and the Centre of Excellence.
The authors report that Kyrgyzstan’s identity system falls under the authority of the State Registration Service. Although initially built using traditional paper-based civil registration, vital statistics, and identity management processes, the system was updated in 2014 to digitize the collection, processing and retention of identity data. The central civil register is part of a larger information and communications technology (ICT) system comprising different databases that store identity information. All of a person’s registered vital events are linked by a UIN (citizenship, address of residence, national ID cards, international travel document information, and biometric data). This ICT system is titled the Unified Population Register (UPR).
In the case of Kyrgyzstan, the political commitment for digitization creating the UPR stemmed from the realization by political stakeholders that reform would solve some of Kyrgyzstan’s most pressing political and governance issues. Specifically, the publication explains, implementing UPR in conjunction with biometric registration helped build public trust in the accuracy of voter lists and thus ease political tensions.
The establishing and testing of UPR during the 2015 parliamentary elections allowed for its value to be further recognized. UPR subsequently was linked to a wide range of other government functional systems that benefit from access to up-to-date identity data. Identity data stored in the UPR is also used by other government services such as cadastre, vehicle registration and driver’s licenses. Other government organizations with systems that require up-to-date population identity information can sign a memorandum of understanding to obtain access to identity data required for service delivery. The authors explain that, as a result, these systems no longer need to run expensive operations to ensure that their beneficiaries’ identity data is always current as maintaining a rate of high vital event registration, digitizing vital events records and digitally aligning this information with the identity management system within the population register all contributed to keeping identity data current. Estimates indicate that introducing the UPR will result in savings of up to USD 300 million per year in the national budget.
The case study also reports that the setting up of the UPR was almost completely financed through allocated budget resources: the Kyrgyzstan government provided financing for a USD 4.8 million biometric enrollment process to allow the initial digitization of citizens’ identity data, while ten external agencies including the South Korean Development Agency, the Government of Japan and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) provided additional funding to set up a biometric voter registration system to begin issuing new biometric ID cards. Since the UPR was established, all system upgrades and historical record digitization have been completed using existing allocated budgetary resources. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Estonian Foreign Ministry contributed USD 560,325 to create the data exchange layer on which the e-governance in Kyrgyzstan is built and to provide training to civil servants and IT specialists.
The publication titled, ‘Compendium of Good Practices in Linking Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) and Identity Management Systems,’ also features five other country case studies: Armenia, Ecuador, Namibia, Netherlands and Peru. The authors note that the benefits of a holistic approach to CRVS and identity management span several aspects of governance, including ensuring people’s rights, improving service delivery, reducing corruption, and leaving no one behind. [Publication: Compendium of Good Practices in Linking Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) and Identity Management Systems – Kyrgyzstan]