Zimbabwe contracts for biometric passports production
Zimbabwe has chosen an unnamed company to build a national biometric database for the country with the aim of facilitating the production of biometric passports and other identity documents, according to New Zimbabwe.
The country also recently announced that plans are afoot to soon allow citizens apply for national identity cards and other ID documents using online means.
Citizens in the southern African country are said to have experienced acute difficulties in obtaining passports for the past couple of years, and this new move means the longstanding problems may soon be a thing of the past, the report states.
Apart from procedural delays in issuance, the production process is also reportedly marred by corruption, with New Zimbabwe mentioning an incident in which Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe said he was witness to a $30 bribe demand at a local passport office by a police officer to avoid standing on a queue.
With a partner having been chosen, Zimbabwe hopes to produce an estimated four million biometric passports a year.
“Cabinet considered and approved the proposed engagement of a private partner in the implementation of a National Biometric Database for the production of e-passports, national identity cards and birth certificates. The partnership will increase the passport production capacity to 4 million units per year, resulting not only in the clearance of the current backlog, but also meeting the daily demand and enabling the country’s embassies to issue passports to Zimbabwean citizens abroad,” Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told the press after the local press Cabinet meeting.
The country is also said to be witnessing shortage in physical ID production material as school children preparing to sit examinations are being given the priority.
Online application for IDs soon
Meanwhile, as plans are ongoing to resolve the passport production problem, Zimbabwe is also looking forwarding to begin accepting application requests for ID cards and other ID documents online, The Zimbabwe Mail reports.
The report quotes ICT and Courier Services Minister Jenfan Muswere as saying recently at a ceremony to launch the St. Theresa-Bvekerwa communication information centre in Makoni that the government move is to ease the process of applying for these documents by users, recalling the difficulties with which citizens applied for them at the heart of the COVID pandemic when many offices remained closed.
“Government is putting in place measures to make it possible for members of the public to apply for identification documents such as passports, national identity cards and birth certificates from the comfort of their homes. This is also being coupled with efforts to turn our post offices into centres offering e-commerce, digital government and digital finance services as a way of making the services available within the proximity for those who do not have the necessary means for them to transact from homes,” The Zimbabwe Mail quoted Muswere as saying.
The Minister added that government is poised at using ICTs as one of the means of achieving the country’s National Development Strategy roadmap which President Emmerson Mnangagwa set rolling in 2019.
In March, Zimbabwe launched a tender for the selection of an IT consultant for a biometric authentication API project to check civil service fraud.