Source: World Bank
The Government of Liberia (GOL) enacted the National Identification Registry Act in 2011 to establish national identification in the country. The law called for the setup of a National Identification Registry (NIR) to be responsible for issuing a biometric-based identification card to each citizen and resident in Liberia. Since the enactment of the law, a Board of Registrars (BOR), headed by the Minister of Internal Affairs, has been set up as a governing body and has convened multiple times. In 2015, the government put in place a management team for the NIR and allocated provisional funding for the setup of a national registry.
Today, no official identity card is issued to people in Liberia. Roughly 10.6 percent of the population of Liberia is registered in a civil registry, managed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and only 26 percent of children are registered at or around birth.
The development of digital identity in Liberia can help the country’s economic and social development. The use of an official identity can improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of conducting census, collecting taxes, issuing passports, delivering pensions, managing elections, controlling the country’s border, and delivering financial services. In the future, digital identity can help the implementation of effective safety net programs that provide for the country’s poor.
About five digital identity programs are being run by different government agencies in Liberia. These programs provide useful services and are specific to the individual needs of each government agency. They help operate a civil registry for birth and death, a passport system, a human resource management system for civil service, a pension system, and a driver’s license system. Each 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 functional programs to national coverage is likely to be difficult. In contrast, a well-developed national identity program can help harmonize the functional identity programs.
In developing a digital identity program for Liberia, the GOL may consider possible next steps: (a) strengthen the enabling environment for identity, including strong provisions for privacy and data protection; (b) develop a business plan and design for NIR, exploiting partnerships, both public and private, where possible; (c) establish the NIR, within a strong institution, with sufficient capacity and resources; (d) enroll people; (e) ensure proper linkages exist amongst the different identity programs in Liberia, in addition with the civil registry; (f) establish electronic authentication of identity; and (g) communicate the benefits of digital identity to people in Liberia.
This report provides a rapid study of the potential and readiness of digital identity in Liberia. The work has been funded by the Korean Trust Fund (KTF) and the Ebola Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF). The report is based on consultations held with the GOL and stakeholders in Liberia during 2014 and 2015. The report provides a preliminary review of the enabling environment and the functional identity programs in Liberia, and discusses next steps. Further assessment of the enabling environment and a detailed action plan would be needed for the GOL to pursue developing digital identity in the country.
Download from World Bank website here.