Biometrics ensure that World Bank support goes to civil servants in Somalia

After 23 years of absence, the World Bank Group has reengaged in Somalia with a new Multi-Partner Fund for Somalia from the World Bank and a Recurrent Cost and Reform Financing project (RCRF) that’s at the heart of a “New Deal” for Somalia aimed at supporting Somalia’s peace and state-building agenda.

In order to build accountability into the RCRF which has been providing salaries and operating support to Mogadishu’s federal institutions, the World Bank is piloting the use of biometric verification for salary payments, and the establishment of licensed financial institutions with deposit and payment functionality to ensure that money goes into the accounts of verified civil servants.

“This system runs in the cloud and uses biometrics to identify civil servants and pay them their salaries,” said Hassan Ahmed, who runs the payroll software at the Central Bank of Somalia.

Using biometric identification, the RCRF now pays thousands of civil servants in the service of the new Somali state through the Central Bank. The biometric system put in place is required to comply with the World Bank’s grant agreements.

WBG’s country director for Somalia, Bella Bird, said in a statement, “We’ve had a really thorough appraisal process to ensure that our funds can use the country systems and be accounted for. But this is not just about providing short-term emergency support for the budget. This brings us into a close dialogue with the authorities on how best to put in place the basic building blocks of macro-fiscal management and public financial management.”

Earlier this year, Somalia began issuing new national identity cards that include fingerprint biometric data, making it among the first five African countries to implement a biometric card ID system.

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