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Tonga digital identity plan granted $4.65M by World Bank

Tonga is set to receive a $4.65 million grant from the World Bank to improve the country’s capacity for digital services delivery, which includes upgrading and linking its civil registration and national ID systems, having obtained approval for the plan from the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.

The plan consists of five components, some of which have several subcomponents, and go from creating the necessary frameworks through implementation to project management. The plan is intended to support Sustainable Development Goal target (SDG) 16.9, with each Tongan citizen receiving an ID number at birth, according to the announcement.

The World Bank has supported efforts to improve broadband internet access across the nation of small, dispersed islands, but technical challenges remain, and Tonga’s cybersecurity and disaster recovery capabilities must be upgraded to ensure the new system’s integrity.

“Delivering effective online public services to our people is essential to the development of Tonga,” says Tonga Minister for Finance, the Hon Dr. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa. “We are delighted to be working with the World Bank to improve our digital technology across all government agencies and advance digital access and efficiency for Tongan communities.”

The grant is being issued by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries, and the project is supported by initiatives of the Australian and Korean governments.

“Our work in the Pacific has shown us that integrated, shared and inclusive information flow within and across government agencies can improve the quality of life for citizens, and reduce the complexity for businesses trying to grow,” says World Bank’s Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands Michel Kerf. “We are proud to be working with the Tongan Government on this project; the first of its kind supporting digital government in the Pacific.”

Bank South Pacific, the largest bank based within the region, is planning to roll out fingerprint biometrics for KYC checks this year through a partnership with Fulcrum Biometrics.

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