20082012 711 President Jacob Zuma during an interview with The Star at Mahlambandlopfu in Pretoria. 120212. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Durban - Africa needed to eliminate “the scandal of invisibility” which saw people living and dying without ever being registered, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

“There are still people on the AU continent who are born and die without leaving any legal trace of their existence,” he said in Durban.

Registration of the continent's people and important events of their lives, such as deaths and marriages, would ensure that people would not be marginalised.

Zuma was opening the second ministerial conference on civil registration and vital statistics.

He said that civil registration served more than the purpose of identifying people.

The information obtained from registration would help governments to alleviate poverty and aid greater integration within Africa by allowing the movement of people and goods.

“By not registering and planning for your people you are putting your country into difficulty.”

South Africa was still living with the failure of authorities during apartheid and colonialism to properly register rural people.

Zuma said that the country's improvement in registering births had also led to a decline in people fraudulently obtaining citizenship.

According to the UN Children's Fund (Unicef), only 38 percent of children below the age of five in Sub-Saharan Africa have a birth certificate.

The rate varies from country to country, with South Africa having one of the highest rates of registration.

In Nigeria, only 30 percent of children born are registered at birth, according to Unicef. - Sapa