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Southern African Development Community countries slowly adopting biometric voting systems

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections

Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are slowly adopting a biometric voting system, as the region increases efforts to promote the use of biometric technology to increase the credibility of their electoral process, according to a report by The Southern Times.

Previously reported, the Democratic Republic of Congo contracted Gemalto to provide 22,000 mobile biometric voter enrolment kits to the electoral body for the upcoming elections in November.

Along with the DRC, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi have either already adopted or are in the process of adopting the biometric voting systems in an effort to create a clean register that is free of “ghost” voters and multiple voting.

The biometric system, which scans for either fingerprints or the iris, is already being used in 25 other African countries. The technology is designed to help deliver a more credible election and decrease the threat of violence.

CENI — which manages and operates the entire enrolment process — will use Gemalto’s Coesys Mobile Enrolment stations to ensure that voter’s personal details and biometric data are efficiently collected and used to add new eligible voters.

“We needed a reliable partner to facilitate our ambitious program, which we expect will enrol up to 45 million voters,” said Corneille Nangaa, president of CENI. “With a wealth of experience in enrolment and voter registry applications in Africa and beyond, Gemalto offered an excellent technical fit, and the ability to react quickly to our requirements.”

Zimbabwe is also boosting its efforts to implement the biometric voting system in advance of its 2018 general election.

Government officials are currently consulting with international experts on how to manage the biometric voting system.

‘We are running a parallel system now. If we reach elections when the biometric equipment and so on and technical persons are in place, we use it, if not we continue (with manual system),” said Zimbabwe Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. “But the system (biometric) has been accepted. We are also consulting countries who have taken on board the biometric system for us to learn from them because most of the countries we have consulted are saying they made a mistake because in some cases it collapses and they go back to manual.”

In addition, Botswana’s government is expected to adopt the biometric voting system by 2019.

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