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Cameroon reveals intention to issue biometric residence permits


Biometrics and digital ID

The Secretary General at Cameroon’s Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, says the President of the Republic has the given the green light for a project that will see the issuance of biometric residence permits for expatriates in the near future.

Ngoh Ngoh gave the hint recent in the capital Yaounde as he inaugurated a new national center for the production of biometric passports. The passport project is overseen by Augentic and issuance of the ID document started off on July 1. The company says more than 35,000 online applications have so far been received for the passport.

The top presidency official described the biometric passport project as a “great success” and said it underpins the desire of the Cameroonian leader to simplify the procedure for obtaining digital ID documents by citizens.

With the passport project now having been delivered, Ngoh Ngoh disclosed that the next step the government intends to take is to accomplish the digitization of the country’s birth registration system, as well as engaging a contractor for the production of biometric residence permits and specialized identity credentials. He did not give any details about the planned project.

Like the biometric national identity card and the biometric passport, residence permits in Cameroon are issued by the General Delegation for National Security (DGSN) and are not yet biometrics-based.

“The next step in the strategy of innovations adopted by the head of state aimed at modernizing our system of issuing secure identity documents has to do, notably, with digitizing the issuance of civil status documents and the issuance of biometric residence permits to aliens staying here…” said Ngoh Ngoh.

Apart from the production of biometric residence permits and digital birth certificates, Ngoh Ngoh also said plans are afoot by government to expedite the issuance of the biometric national ID card.

The issuance of national ID cards is a thorny issue in Cameroon at the moment. The statutory wait-time for the document to be delivered is three months from the date of biometric capture, but many applicants go for several months, and even years, without the document being produced.

The government has said in past that it is taking measures to fix the problem, but things are clearly not changing on the ground.

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