The Somalian government has launched a biometric national ID system, marking the return of a national identity registry of any kind after three decades of political turmoil.
“Today marks a great day for Somalia as we finally lay the foundations of a reliable and all-inclusive national identification system that is recognized worldwide,” proclaimed Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre at a conference announcing the system’s launch.
Authorities are now registering Somalis’ face and fingerprint biometrics in the ID system, and digitizing their signatures.
The integration of these two biometric modalities—fingerprint and facial recognition—underscores Somalia’s dedication to adopting advanced technology to serve its populace. Biometric systems, by their nature, offer compelling accuracy by capturing and comparing unique physiological attributes of individuals. In Somalia’s case, the dual modality approach amplifies the reliability of the identification process.
Somalia’s journey with biometric technology isn’t a new narrative. The nation has previously showcased its inclination towards such systems. A notable instance is when Somaliland, a region in northern Somalia, pioneered the use of iris recognition for its voter registration, marking a global first. This innovative step was widely recognized as a trust-building measure, both domestically and internationally.
In earlier phases, the Somali government had articulated its vision of a comprehensive biometric national ID program, drawing inspiration from Aadhaar, India’s expansive biometric ID initiative. To realize this vision, Somalia had reached out to global partners, including Pakistan and the World Bank, for collaboration and support.
With a biometric national ID now in place, Prime Minister Barre said it would help the Somali people to overcome “myriad socioeconomic challenges that hinder their development potential while advancing democracy and the rule of law.” The comments refer to the government’s ongoing battle, alongside allied African Union Peacekeepers, against the terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
September 22, 2023 – by the Mobile ID World Editorial Team