Madagascar gets $143M World Bank boost to improve its digital ID management system

Grow digital ID system for emergency and reap long term rewards, World Bank says

The island African nation of Madagascar is set to ameliorate its digital identity management system as well as digitize some of its essential services, especially in the domain of healthcare.

This is possible thanks to a financial push from the World Bank amounting to $143 million, $140 million being a credit from the International Development Association Scale-Up Facility and the remaining $3 million a grant from the Global Financial Facility.

The Bretton Woods institution announced the development recently in a press release saying the package for Madagascar was approved on 30 September. According to the World Bank, the project will seek to put in place an effective and secure digital identity management system, notably by “modernizing the existing interoperable civil registry and national identity databases” of the country of about 26 million citizens.

Part of the project, the World Bank said, will also ensure the implementation of the National Civil Registration and Identification Center, simplified registration and digital ID management procedures, a unique identifier number from birth, and improved security of data.

The World Bank funding supports Sustainable Development Goal 16.9, to provide legal identity for all. Madagascar’s legal identity system currently consists of civil registration and civil identification programs, with the latter aggregating attributes such as a “signature, a photograph, a unique number and/or biometrics.”

The World Bank Country Manager for Madagascar, Marie-Chantal Uwanyiligira, said the project falls in line with the Bank’s country adjustment programs that seek to encourage greater investment in digital transformation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Streamlining and digitalizing services and improving the identification of citizens can help provide quicker and more efficient services to the population and the private sector and play a critical role to mitigate the effects of future health crisis as well as adapting to climate change,” said Uwanyiligira.

A World Bank specialist, Heriniaina Andrianasy, who will work with the project, expressed optimism about it, saying the “digitalization of services can help enhance public sector performance, accountability and transparency, while reducing leakages through automation.”

Apart from streamlining some key every-day services for the Malagasy people and enhancing the country’s resilience against climate change, the current project has also been welcomed as one that will build the government’s capacity in better offering public services using digital and multimodal means.

Madagascar – an island in the Indian Ocean – is said to be a nation with an avalanche of opportunities for digital transformation. With about 600 skilled engineers trained every year, the country is considered a hub for software development talent on the continent of Africa. Its fastest internet connectivity speed has also been hailed as an opportunity for facilitating multimodal service delivery.

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