WASHINGTON, June 5, 2018—The World Bank approved today International Development Association (IDA)* financing of about $317.1 million to facilitate access to services for millions of people through building an identification system that is inclusive of all persons in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) territory, irrespective of nationality, citizenship or legal status.
Known as the “West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion (WURI)” program, it will start in Côte d’Ivoire and in Guinea, covering approximately 22.5 and 12.5 million people, respectively, by 2024. Each country will implement their own foundational ID platforms (which use a minimal set of attributes to uniquely and exclusively describe an individual) independently and according to their needs. The next phase will cover Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Roughly 40 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)—approximately 502 million people—lack official proof of identification and, consequently, face significant barriers to accessing critical services. Reciprocally, governments also struggle to authenticate and deliver services to the unregistered and unidentified.
“People who lack official proof of identity often face significant barriers to accessing public and private services and becoming full members of society. This is especially true for women and the poorest segments of society. With strong identification systems, countries can deliver vital services to people. Identification also provides a foundation for other rights and gives a voice to the voiceless,” said Makhtar Diop, Vice President for the Africa Region.
The program coordination will be done through the ECOWAS Commission whose role as a regional governing body is critical for ensuring the mutual recognition of foundational IDs among participating countries. It will also help the ECOWAS Commission achieve a regional framework for mobility and broader integration. Regional compatibility of foundational IDs could help to drive down costs, as well as facilitate integration, encourage the movement of peoples and goods, grow trade and improve security, with benefits accruing to both individual member states and to the ECOWAS region at large.
“Advancing identification for all will help facilitate the delivery of services such as social protection, financial inclusion, healthcare, and humanitarian assistance, thus serving as a key enabler for eradicating poverty and for achieving a broad range of development outcomes," said Michal Rutkowski, Senior Director of the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.