The Government plans to digitise civil registration, a process where it will develop a database of births, deaths, civil marriage and legally accepted divorces for citizens and residents.
The new system will consolidate data from various public institutions, among them, the National Identification Agency, all districts, hospitals as well as the ministry of justice and the civil registrars at sector the level.
Plans to introduce the system were first mooted last week when officials from the ministry finance and the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) appeared in parliament.
Yusuf Murangwa, the Director-General of NISR, said that the new system will ease access to vital statistics, which are critical for the country to achieve effective planning for its citizens.
With the digital system, Murangwa said, the government will be able to accurately establish the number of mothers, births, deaths and the cause for citizens’ deaths.
“Knowing the real causes of death can help the ministry of health to devise effective intervention strategies to tackle such factors to prevent future deaths,” he said.
According Murangwa, the move will also help the ministry of health, for instance, to accurately determine the number of children vaccinated for a certain disease in a given period of time.
“When such data is not available, they (government) might buy too much vaccine which is not needed or it might have excess stock in one place while there is a shortage in another,” he said.
Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, said civil status statistics are very important as they are based on in planning in health, education and governance.
Rwanda is keen to improve its civil registration procedures to enhance the development of its social and economic policies and decision making.
“When such figures are not available in a timely manner, it results in only relying on the data from the demographic health surveys conducted every five years by the National Institute of Statistics, which is a long period,” he explained.
While the 2016 law governing persons and family, which is now the subject of review, states every child must be registered within thirty days after birth, the data is not integrated.
The registration of newborns is done by civil status registrars at all the 416 sectors countrywide.
The new move will allow hospitals or health centres to register babies immediately after birth.
In the 2018/19 fiscal year, Murangwa said, some 332,000 babies were born from hospitals and health centres, representing about 99 per cent of all children born in Rwanda then.
Of those children born from health facilities, 324,000 or about 96 per cent were registered with full details, including where they were born and their parents.
Emma Rubagumya Furaha, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Gender wanted to know about the safety of this system.
“This system will be huge and important; so how will it be protected? Because as people develop good technologies, there are others who develop harmful technologies,” she said.
Ndagijimana said that the country has mechanisms to protect the system, citing a data centre that it has and backups that can be used to safeguard data in case of fire or other incidents.
The capacity of the data centre will be progressively upgraded, he disclosed.