The Somali government is aiming to build a biometric national ID program, and is looking to Pakistan and the World Bank for help.Dubbed the Somali National Identity Program, it’s actually envisioned as a program similar to Aadhaar, the biometric national ID program used by Pakistan’s arch-rival India. The program would enable citizens to access government services, obtain money through government subsidies, and confirm their identities in the private sector, among other applications.It’s an ambitious aim for a country that has never had a centralized ID system for its citizens, and that’s part of the reason the Somali government has sought the help of Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), with which it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding. In implementing a national ID program in Pakistan, NADRA has had to overcome similar obstacles to those faced by Somalia’s authorities, and has some expertise to lend.Meanwhile, the head of Somalia’s Digital ID Program, Dr. Nur Dirie Hersi Fursade, recently met with World Bank officials to go over the project. The World Bank has been emphasizing the importance of providing reliable identification to vulnerable and underserved populations, especially through its ID4D initiative, and so Dr. Nur suggested that the organization could provide backing to Somalia’s biometric ID project. It isn’t yet clear what, if anything, the World Bank is prepared to commit to, but with excitement over biometric ID on the rise thanks to Aadhaar and certain United Nations efforts, Somalia’s officials had a strong case to make.
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