Somalia launches national identity (ID) card program. In a significant milestone for the country, the National Identity and Registration Authority (NIRA) has commenced the issuances, marking the first time in more than three decades for the central government to introduce such a system. Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud were among the first recipients of the new IDs.
Mogadishu, SOMALIA. By Jama:
Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre inaugurated the national identification and registration process during a ceremony in the capital, Mogadishu. In his address, he emphasized the transformative potential of the new biometric ID system, noting that it would not only open up opportunities for citizens but also contribute to strengthening national cohesion. Mr Barre underscored the importance of the national ID system in addressing various socio-economic challenges that have hindered Somalia’s development, emphasizing its role in advancing democracy and the rule of law.
“The inception of the national ID will help the Somali people overcome myriad socio-economic challenges that hinder their development potential,” Prime Minister Barre stated, reaffirming his government’s commitment to ensuring that all citizens “enjoy their full constitutional rights with the launching of the biometric identification system.”
The introduction of national IDs is a significant step towards modernization in Somalia. It will facilitate various aspects of daily life, including enabling Somali banks to seamlessly transfer money to foreign banks and vice versa. The IDs will also enhance compliance and the “Know Your Customer” (KYC) process, through which banks gather essential information about their customers’ identities and addresses, helping to prevent misuse of banking services.
However, the issuance of national IDs is not without its challenges. The central government’s limited control over vast areas of Somalia, particularly those under the influence of the extremist group al-Shabaab, poses a significant obstacle to implementing the program in these regions. Additionally, the autonomous region of Somaliland, which operates as an independent state, has its own ID card system. Similarly, the Federal Member State of Puntland has issued IDs to its residents. Moreover, it has severed relations with the central government, making it unlikely that national IDs will be distributed there in the near term.
Despite these challenges, the launch of the national ID card program represents a positive step towards modernization and greater inclusivity in Somalia. It remains to be seen how the government will navigate the complexities of identity issuance in regions beyond its direct control. Still, the initiative is a significant move toward digital transformation and the enhancement of services for Somali citizens.