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Unlocking Opportunities for Millions in Mozambique with Free IDs

Isac, a 13-year-old boy from Homoíne district in Inhambane province, southern Mozambique, dreams of becoming a nurse. But until recently, his hopes were dashed by a hard truth: Isac lacked a legal identity document (ID), a simple piece of paper that could unlock his future. Without it, he couldn't enroll in school and instead spent his days collecting and selling wood for food. “If I were to get an ID today, I would go back to school and achieve my dream of becoming a nurse and healing people,” he says.

Isac is one of millions of children in Mozambique without an ID. He lives with his grandmother, a woman of sparse means. For them, as for nearly 13 million others in Mozambique, the cost of obtaining an ID had always been too high, and the nearest registration center, too far.

People in Mozambique lining up to register for IDs
Community members gather at a temporary registration center in Homoíne, Inhambane Province, Central Mozambique. Photo: World Bank

The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) data illustrates the dimension of the identification gap in Mozambique. More than one in every two people in Mozambique do not have official proof of identity, and the impact is profound. Without it, they cannot access education, obtain professional qualifications, own land, open bank accounts, find formal employment, or register a business.

Recognizing this as a barrier, the World Bank is supporting the Government of Mozambique in closing the identification gap with a new campaign that provides free access to IDs.

Isac's situation changed dramatically when Nelly, a community member who supports Isac and his grandmother, took him to a temporary registration center, staffed by a joint mobile group from Mozambique’s Ministry of Justice’s National Directorate of Registries and Notary (DNRN) and the Ministry of Interior’s National Directorate of Civil Identification (DNIC). The registration center was set up in Homoíne district as a pilot for a campaign in September 2023. Isac was able to obtain legal identification in just one day, free of charge. This process, which would have taken months and incurred significant costs, was streamlined thanks to the initiative.

“My greatest hope is for Isaac to return to school, complete his education, secure a job, and thrive,” said Nelly. All these opportunities are now available to him.

People at registration desk issuing IDs in Mozambique
A team from the Ministry of Justice’s National Directorate of Registries and Notary distributes recently issued IDs to the community. Photo: World Bank

The World Bank’s Digital Governance and Economy Project (EDGE) and its ID4D Initiative supported DNIC in deploying a free-ID pilot campaign in three Mozambican provinces. Overwhelming demand led the DNIC to spearhead, on November 13, 2023, a nationwide free ID campaign for all new ID registration for the first time in the country’s history. Thanks to support from EDGE, at least 140,000 IDs were delivered within a few months free of charge in Mozambique.  DNIC is now scaling up its effort to ease access to free IDs nationwide.

“When I heard an ID brigade was happening nearby, I came and requested mine. With an ID, we can access basically any service, such as enrolling our children in school. The process was easy and very flexible,” said Vania Magaissane, a 34-year-old self-employed woman who lives in the country’s capital, Maputo. In her family, everyone has an ID, but she knows this is not yet the case for many other families. “This is a good campaign, and I hope it expands because there are a lot of people without the resources to request an ID,” she added.

Through initiatives like EDGE, the World Bank, and the Government of Mozambique are working to bridge the identification gap, unlocking economic opportunities and access to services for individuals like Isac and Vania, and contributing to broader social and economic development in the country.


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