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$86M DRC biometric driving license deal for Otojuste amid choppy contracting

Biometrics and digital ID

Little-known Congolese company Otojuste has won a US$86 million public-private partnership contract with DRC’s Transport Ministry to produce the country’s biometric driving licences, despite IN Groupe having been awarded a broad-ranging deal for biometric document supply six months ago, reports Africa Intelligence (subscription required and recommended).

Otojuste is a subsidiary of the Lebanese firm Resource Group Holding, according to Africa Intelligence. This is Otojuste’s second DRC contract win after being awarded the tender for supplying secure road tax discs with RFID – the Secure Vehicle Sticker Management System – in May 2021. Inkript, also a subsidiary of Resource Group Holding, announced itself as Otojuste’s technical partner and subcontractor on the deal.

Inkript has been winning contracts across Africa in recent years via its Africard subsidiary, including for biometric passports in the Central African Republic. Africa Intelligence also reports that Inkript won a contract in the DRC worth over $35 million for polling station kits for the 2011 presidential election, according to a leak of bank documents analyzed by a consortium of media as part of the Congo Hold-up project. However, Inkript, in an email to Biometric Update, says it is unaffiliated with Inkript DRC.

Otojuste’s $86 million offer was considered the best by the Transport Ministry and is undergoing final negotiations. It beat off competing offers from Solution for Africa, the Africa Union Financial Service and others.

Yet there remains a lack of clarity over scope for biometric contracts in the country. The DRC foreign ministry’s relations with Semlex continue to look strained as the Belgian firm’s hopes of signing a new biometric passports contract were blocked, and a new deal with French parastatal IN Groupe was meant to be a new chapter for the country. The ‘multi-title’ platform, reported Africa Intelligence, is wide ranging and can issue biometric passports, identity cards, and potentially driving licences.

Resource Group denied that Otojuste is its subsidiary, or related to Inkript, and clarified both that Africard Niger is not affiliated with Inkript, and that Inkript DRC is not related to Inkript Group and has since changed its name, in an email from a company representative.

This post was updated at 1:07pm Eastern on December 15, 2021 to include a response from Resource Group.

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