After 30 years of unnoticeable change to Somalia’s digital identity ecosystem, the country is finally breaking a standstill as digitalisation sweeps the rest of the globe. Legislation was endorsed on Saturday for the return of civil registration and the issuance of national ID cards.

The responsibility for innovation to create digital identity and service systems falls upon each country – as shown by the EU’s impending digital wallet and Entry/Exit systems.

Digital identity (eID) systems are a cornerstone in the digital services ecosystem enabling citizen liberties and businesses to operate. This will bring opportunity and innovation to Somalia now legislation has been passed to provide guidelines to reinstating a national ID system.

The country’s national citizen registry crashed in 1991 after a turbulent period of national unrest, instability, disorder and economic trouble leading to the demise of government leadership and subsequently a registration system.

The introduction of national identification cards for every citizen is symbolic of a sense of national order being restored and everyone in society being validated and recognised by being recorded on a national registration database.

Somalia are reinstating civil registration which will allow government and localised authorities to easily identify citizens.

In 2019, an advisory report outlining the proposal of a legal framework to reconcile a digital ID system in Somalia confirmed that the Federal government had received financing from the World Bank through the Somalia Capacity Advancement, Livelihoods and Entrepreneurship scheme through the Digital Uplift Project.

The report stated the digital ID system is “intended to underpin ‘functional’ ID systems and registries (for particular sectoral purposes, e.g. social protection, financial services, etc.) and will strive for interoperability with other existing and future registries”.

The report also reached the conclusion that whilst in the process of procuring and developing a national digital ID system, Somalia lacked the enabling laws and regulations to support “an effective, robust, inclusive and well-governed digital ID system”.

The foundational digital ID system is expected to issue over 1 million unique IDs to the population within the next three years regardless of citizenship status and citizens do not have to produce prior documentation.