Cameroon hands 15-year biometric ID card contract to Augentic

Biometric Update | Augentic has agreed a deal with the government of Cameroon to produce a new generation biometric national ID card for the country under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) arrangement that will last a decade and a half.

A ceremony to put pen to paper on the deal took place in Yaounde May 13. Augentic CEO, Labinot Carreti, signed on behalf of the company, while the Delegate General for National Security, Martin Mbarga Nguele, singed for the ID-issuing authority (DGSN).

In a chat with Biometric Update after the ceremony, Carreti said the official signing of the deal is the apotheosis and happy ending of a tender process which lasted over two years.

The German company was selected by an inter-ministerial committee set up for that purpose following a restricted international call to tender launched in December 2021.

The Augentic CEO said the project seeks to overhaul Cameroon’s ID card system, and ensure that ID cards are produced in 48 hours after the submission of an application. The first cards will be produced before the year runs out, he assures.

As part of the contract, a total of 68 new multi-functional structures will be built to facilitate the issuance of ID cards, including three ultra-modern ID production centers in the cities of Yaounde, Douala and Garoua, as well as enrollment centers in the regional and divisional headquarters.

About 219 existing ID card registration centers are also expected to be renovated by the firm, and new equipment and machines will be deployed in all the centers. The company says it is also discussing with the DGSN on a transition plan from the current generation of cards to the new ones.

The project will unfold in two phases for total funding of over €70 million (US$75 million), he says. The sum of €40 million (US$43 million) will be invested in the first phase to get the system running, while over €30 million (US$ 32 million) will be put in during the second phase which will basically be to renew the equipment and infrastructure and hand them over to the government of Cameroon once the ‘Operate’ component of the deal ends.

About security, the Augentic CEO said the ID card will have the highest security features in line with ICAO standards, and a special design that will be a first for Africa and the second in the world.

The deal, he adds, heralds an end to Cameroon’s national ID card woes. In the past years, obtaining an ID card in Cameroon has been a hellish experience with recurrent complaints of issuance delays and extortion.

Apart from national ID cards, Augentic is also required to produce biometric short stay permits, refugee cards, ID cards for DGSN personnel as well as disability cards.

This is the second identity document contract Augentic is securing from the Cameroon government. The company won a biometric passport contract in 2020 and has been producing the travel credential for the country since 2021 – a project that was successfully implemented in the heart of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that security identification system contract has been signed, Carreti says various streams of work will go on simultaneously including the development and testing of the solution, producing the card specimen, construction of physical infrastructure, as well as putting in place other technical details to ensure the system goes live in the next few months.

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