From chaos to clarity: Somalia’s digital ID shift

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – After thirty years of dormancy, Somalia’s digital identity system is being rejuvenated. Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre highlighted this transition as he presided over a pivotal two-day conference in Mogadishu, heralding the revival of civil registration and the distribution of national ID cards.

“Today signifies a monumental leap for Somalia in establishing a universally recognized and robust national ID system,” remarked a passionate Barre on Saturday.

Within this framework, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of the Federal Republic of Somalia, while engaged in counter-operations against al-Shabab militants in Dhusamareb, became one of the first recipients of the new ID card.

His receipt underscored the national significance, with the president affirming, “This pivotal rollout promises to strengthen security and address fundamental national concerns.”

The bedrock of future services 

Somalia’s newly instituted eID systems form the cornerstone of the nation’s emerging digital services.

By empowering citizens to enjoy their civil liberties and enabling businesses to function seamlessly, the government is reaffirming its dedication to Somali equality in national undertakings.

“Our businesses, banks, and communication networks will witness an unprecedented upliftment, even as we clamp down on extremist entities,” stated Barre, emphasizing the dual economic and security benefits.

Conversely, in a poignant video message, Ahmed Moallim Fiqi, Somalia’s Minister of Interior, Federal Affairs, and Reconciliation, underscored the significance of a trustworthy national ID in combating the al-Shabab extremists.

“A National ID transcends mere plastic; it’s a gateway to indispensable services like health, education, and economic opportunities,” Fiqi passionately communicated.

A timeline to transformation 

The journey to this transformation began earlier this year. In March, the upper house gave its nod to the National Identification and Registration Authority Bill.

This legislation ensures that all Somalis can lawfully register their identities, guaranteeing access to both governmental and private sector amenities.

The Mogadishu conference witnessed a congregation of government officials, business tycoons, civil society representatives, and international collaborators.

Distinguished speakers, such as the United Nations’ Catriona Laing and the World Bank’s Kristina Svensson, conveyed optimism regarding the potential of the national ID to counter al-Shabab threats.

This renewed push for digital identity can trace its origins back to the tumultuous events of 1991.

National turmoil, marked by instability and economic chaos, culminated in the disintegration of the government and its citizen registry system.