Morocco has relied on multiple registries and ID programs to provide identification to its citizens and to deliver public services, each highly developed in its own way. Morocco’s identification ecosystem includes the civil registry which records births and deaths; the Carte Nationale d’Identite Electronique (CNIE), the National Register of Children (MASSAR), a fully digitized system to manage all aspects of children’s scholastic life; the RAMED database, which underpins a free medical insurance program for the poor; and the Social Security register (CNSS), which contains the records of formal wage earners and their families.

Despite the broad coverage of these systems taken together, Morocco found that its complex identity ecosystem was no longer serving all of its needs due to a lack of interoperability. Because each system had created its own identification number—none of which followed the same logic or standards—the databases were unable to talk with each other to exchange or verify information. As a result, the systems were susceptible to error and fraud. Individuals’ records differed across databases, with slight variations in the spelling of their names or addresses. In the long run, this lack of integration resulted in a waste of time and money for the administration and burdened individuals with the need to prove their identity through many different means in order to access services and exercise their rights.

The introduction of the RAMED and Tayssir social safety net programs further underlined the country’s need for a new identification system. Through RAMED, the government provides free health insurance to the poorest fifth of the population, while Tayssir is a conditional cash transfer that encourages families in the poorest communities to send their children to school.

To implement a true digital identification system capable of supporting access to services and rights for all, including poor families and their children, the Government of Morocco has begun to develop both a National Population Register (NPR) with a Unique Identifying Number and a Social Register with the support of the World Bank.

The NPR will be a comprehensive foundational database of all individuals who have the right to reside in a country. It will draw on existing databases—the CNIE for adults above 18, the MASSAR for children between the ages of 6-18, and the civil register (once it has been digitized) for those under the age of 6— to create a unified registry. Each registered individual will be assigned a unique identifying number (UIN), which will be the key to linking the disparate databases. Once multiple databases are able to use the UIN to crosscheck and link identities, there will be little room for identity fraud or error. The NPR can also be used by Morocco’s current and future social programs for secure and transparent transactions such as payment of social benefits.

This approach has the potential to give Morocco the digital identification system it needs for the 21st century.