Gambia reconfirms issuance of biometric passports

The West African nation of Gambia has reiterated its plans to replace its machine-readable passports with biometric passports.

Interior Minister Ousman Sonko stated in the country’s legislature this week that the new biometric passports will have “security features such as a chip for reading the details of the passport holders” and that it will use “fingerprint identification for enrollment.”

Once a citizen is enrolled into the system, details about their identity cannot be altered or manipulated by document fraudsters. The Interior Ministry did not announce when the new documents would be made available.

BiometricUpdate.com reported last year that Zetes had be awarded a 15 year contract to create biometric passports. The country issues 10 passports along with six-month passports for pilgrimage to the Holy lands.

According to the company, it is estimated that 40,000 passports would be produced each year under the subcontracting contract, shared with Africard. The first passports were expected to be delivered in December 2013.

Previously, the country introduced a biometric identification card, through its GAMBIS biometric identity management system, which has aimed to capture the biometrics of all citizens and foreign nationals.

The role of the system is to collect all the information necessary for the issuance of national identity cards, residential and work permits and driver’s licenses. The system is designed to increase the security of identity documents in order to facilitate legal, commercial, governmental and financial transactions nationwide. So far, 100,000 persons have been registered through GAMBIS.

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