Residents registering for the digital ID (Image © NDI)
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World Bank Approves $350mln Finance for Digital ID Rollout in Ethiopia

The World Bank has lined up 350 million US Dollars in loans to support the national rollout of the biometrics-based Digital ID in Ethiopia.

The board of the multilateral lender approved the finance for the Digital ID for Inclusion and Services Project on Dec 13, 2023.  

“This finance will help us to roll out the digital ID project that we have been working on for a long time at the country level,” Yodahe Zemichael, executive director of the National Digital ID Program, says following the approval.

Ethiopia is one of the world’s last remaining countries to launch a national-scale foundational ID system with digital capabilities.

Millions of Ethiopians lack current forms of identification, such as IDs issued by local governments and birth certificates. As a result, they face barriers that prevent participation in basic activities of the formal economy, such as opening bank accounts, accessing health insurance, receiving cash transfers and subsidies.

The new digital ID system also known as Fayda was established through the enactment of Digital ID law in March 2023. Fayda is expected to make it easier for Ethiopians, migrants, and refugees to access financial services, social protection, jobs, healthcare, and education.

“At least 90 million Ethiopians as well as refugees and migrants living in the country, will have access to an inclusive and secure ID that improves their access to services and economic opportunities,” the World Bank says.

To date, more than 3.5 million people have registered in the Fayda pilots.

With the latest backing of the World Bank, the national digital ID program will roll out voluntary registration and ID issuance across the country.

The program will also develop ICT infrastructure, establish a Personal Data Protection Commission, and the digital transformation of public and private sector services that integrate with Fayda.

“By providing universally accessible proof of legal identity, Fayda’s transformative potential in Ethiopia’s peace dividends is undeniable,” said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director.

“As an ID system of national scope, it not only fosters a sense of belonging but also ensures equal access to services, paving the way for inclusive growth and shared prosperity,” he said.

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