Source: World Bank
The Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) has developed an ambitious plan in 2014 to reform civil registration in the country and to establish a national identity register. The planned reforms showcase significant effort taken by the government and a strong collaboration built with development partners, including namely the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A reformed civil registration program would go a long way in offering an official identity to people in the country, and in enabling the electronic delivery of services, both public and private.
To date, a national policy for civil registration reform has been established, and a bill to enact civil registration is being prepared by the government. About 5 percent of people in Sierra Leone are registered in a national identity registry, managed by the National Registration Secretariat (NRS). Roughly 51 percent of people are registered in a birth and death registry, and 78 percent of children are registered at or around birth. Birth certificates are readily available to people who undergo limited vetting.
The development of digital identity in Sierra Leone can help the country’s economic and social development. The use of an official identity can improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of collecting taxes, conducting census, issuing passports, delivering pensions, managing elections, controlling borders, delivering financial services, and running effective safety net programs.
Five or more identity programs are being run by different government agencies in Sierra Leone. These programs provide useful services though are specific to the individual needs of each government agency. They help operate a civil registry for births and deaths, a passport system, a national identity system, a pension system, and a voter system. Each foundational or functional program uses its own technologies and processes, with little or no provision for interoperability across the different identity programs. Scaling up any of these programs to national coverage is likely to be difficult. In contrast, a well-developed national identity program can help harmonize the different identity programs.
In developing a digital identity program for Sierra Leone, the GOSL may consider possible next steps: (a) establish an enabling environment enacting civil registration and provision of digital identity in the country; (b) validate the dates of birth, where possible; (c) anchor the digital identity program in a strong institution, with a robust business model and effective capacities; (d) enroll people; (e) link with birth and death registration, and establish authentication mechanisms for identity services; (f) fund the program; and (g) communicate the benefits of digital identity effectively to the people of Sierra Leone.
This report provides a rapid diagnosis of the potential and readiness of digital identity in Sierra Leone, and is funded by the Korean Trust Fund (KTF) and the Ebola Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF). The report is based on consultations held with the GOSL and with stakeholders in the identity ecosystem of Sierra Leone. The report provides a preliminary review of the enabling environment and the functional identity programs in Sierra Leone, along with a discussion of possible next steps. This report is intended to be read in tandem with Digital Identity Toolkit: A Guide for Stakeholders in Africa, a publication of the World Bank.
Download from World Bank website here.