Somali Identification Team Meets with World Bank Officials to Boost ID Efforts in Somalia

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Nur Dirie Hersi Fursade, Chief Strategist in the Office of the President of Somalia and Head the Digital ID Program, met with senior World Bank officials and development partners to brief them on a new government-led program, which aims to provide identification for all Somalis.

The Somali National Identity Program, the first of its kind for Somalia, will attempt to implement a foundational identification system based on biometric data. The National ID systems designed to be the nucleus of a new national identification infrastructure and will act an entry point for service delivery for Somali authorities, civil society, development partners and the private sector.

“The Somali Government is rapidly developing governance structures that will be able to respond to citizen needs”, said Dr. Nur Dirie Hersi Fursade, Chief Strategists in the Office of the President of Somalia. “Parallel to these developments, we need to make sure that Somali citizens and eligible residents are provided with identification credentials, which will enable access to vital services including aid and money transfer services. Implemented in this way, the new ID system acts as an effective and neutral entry point for addressing the effects of the global de-risking agenda by the Somali authorities”.

Somalia has never had a centralized identification system for its citizens and eligible residents, though decentralized manual identification systems were operational in local municipalities prior to 1991.

The new ID system aims to promote linkages with delivery of services by the private sector, link IDs with electronic Know Your Customer (KYC) verification in the financial sector and coordinate social protection programs such as unconditional cash transfers. IDs would also play a crucial role in security, displacement and democratization processes.

Dr. Nur made a technical presentation to development partners that outlined the envisioned identification infrastructure, legal and regulatory framework, implementation schedule and budget estimations. He stressed that the Office of the President envisions a new federal agency would be established to manage the ID system.

Dr Nur also outlined the details of the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Somali Federal Government and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) of Pakistan. NADRA brings experience in designing and implementing ID software in a fragile country context, including rural and other hard to reach areas as well as implementation experience in sub-Saharan Africa.

More than 1.1 billion people in the world are unable to prove their identity and therefore lack access to vital services including healthcare, social protection, education and finance. The majority live in Africa and Asia and more than a third are children who are unregistered. The World Bank Group’s senior management has placed strategic importance on Identification for Development (ID4D) and ensures institutional resources are fully leveraged to support the agenda.

“The World Bank’s global role in Identification for Development, the institution’s current analytical work on foundational IDs in Somalia, and ultimately its strong role in Somali state-building, places them in a unique position to support a universal identification system in Somalia”, said Dr. Nur.

Dr. Nur and his team proposed the World Bank’s role in the Somali National Identity Program, which would include having the Bank support the Federal Government in convening stakeholders, and providing technical assistance to support project team on customization and implementation of the NADRA system.

Among the attendees of the meeting were World Bank Group, DFID, EU, Norway, Denmark and USAID.

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