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Ethiopia digital ID project gets WB push as govt solicits more private sector support

Ethiopia digital ID project gets WB push as govt solicits more private sector support
 

As Ethiopia continues to implement its digital ID project, which is part of the country’s 2025 Digital Strategy, the government believes more success will be recorded with increased participation from private sector partners. This comes as the country is also enjoying considerable multilateral support. The World Bank (WB), last month, said it is offering more support to the country to accompany its ambition of reaching at least 90 million people with secure ID and inclusive digital services under the Digital ID for Inclusion and Services Project. Earlier same month, the Bretton woods institution had announced the implementation of the second phase of a digital integration project that will serve borderland settlements, refugees and host communities in Ethiopia and neighbouring Djibouti, to drive economic and social inclusion.

WB support to enhance access to secure ID, digital services

Through the Digital ID for Inclusion and Services Project, the WB hopes Ethiopia’s Fayda digital ID will enable millions of citizens enjoy access to a wide range of public services, and present them with huge economic opportunities to better improve their lives.

The support, which goes up to the tune of $350 million financing, will among other things, facilitate “voluntary registration and ID issuance across the country, the development of secure and energy-efficient ICT infrastructure, the establishment of a Personal Data Protection Commission, and digital transformation of public and private sector services that integrate with Fayda.

Apart from the Fayda digital ID, the funds will also be invested into developing other aspects of the country’s digital public infrastructure ecosystem, such as instant digital payments services and an interoperable data exchange platform. It will also seek to accelerate digital inclusion efforts, “adaptive social protection, and access to mainstream services for refugees.”

The project also places a premium on personal data protection, and this will be done through data minimization, tokenization of sensitive data, and strengthened cybersecurity and information security capabilities.

Commenting on the significance of the Fayda which has already seen 3.5 million citizens enrolled for it, the World Bank Country Director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan, Ousmane Dione said:By providing universally accessible proof of legal identity, Fayda’s transformative potential in Ethiopia’s peace dividends is undeniable. 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.”

Djibouti, Ethiopia border communities to enjoy expanded digital economy

The Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MinT) in Ethiopia, and Djibouti’s Ministry of Communications, in charge of Posts and Telecommunications (MCPT) are implementing a World Bank-supported project that seeks to extend digital services to border communities of the two neighbouring countries.

The project, labelled The Eastern Africa Regional Digital Integration Project Series of Projects – II (EARDIP-SOP-2), is worth $130 million disbursed by the International Development Association.

According to a press release, the project, which targets about 40 million people in the two countries, has been lauded as one that will propel regional integration and national connectivity.

“This project is not only a significant milestone for regional integration, but also a powerful catalyst for national inclusion. By fostering a single digital market in the Horn of Africa, this initiative extends its benefits to both Tadjourah and Obock regions in Djibouti, making a substantial contribution to the country’s digital inclusion strategy,” said Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Djibouti’s minister for the economy and finance, in charge of Industry. “This marks a crucial and pivotal step towards the amalgamation of regional growth and national connectivity.”

The initiative has as objective to build cross-border broadband connectivity, data flows, and digital trade infrastructure in the region. The project also expects support from private sector partners with estimated private capital resources put at about $30 million.

Speaking about the project, Ethiopia’s Innovation and Technology Minister Belete Molla said it “will set us on the right path to grow our digital economies in the Horn of Africa together, as a single digital market.”

Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank director for Regional Integration in Africa and the Middle East remarked: “By aligning national interventions with regional goals, it will contribute to advance the digital integration agenda in the region and across the continent.”

Private sector role crucial in Ethiopia’s digital transformation

Meanwhile, Molla has underscored the importance of government-private sector collaboration in the implementation of the country’s digital transformation agenda, top of which is the digital ID rollout.

Ethiopia’s 2025 Digital Strategy comprises a digital ID, a digital payments system, digital government and digital trade ecosystems as well as a robust cybersecurity architecture.

Speaking recently during a conference, the Innovation and Technology minister urged that the level of teamwork between the government and private sector entities be nurtured as Ethiopia looks forward to developing its digital economy through digital technology, per Ethiopia News Agency.

The official said several aspects are vital to drive such partnership such as training and capacity building, and skills-sharing to tackle common problems.

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