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Dermalog beats Semlex, others to $48M biometric passport deal in DRC

Dermalog beats Semlex, others to $48M biometric passport deal in DRC

German biometrics firm Dermalog has won a contract worth US$48 million to produce biometric passports in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the firm has confirmed with Biometric Update following reports in Congolese media.

Further details are to emerge, but the announcement, ending around five months of speculation, reveals Belgium’s Semlex or subsidiary Locosem failed to win the new contract, after supplying passports to the country through thick and thin since 2016 (bar a few months’ standoff last year).

Dermalog’s new contract involves enrollment for passports as well as supplying the personalization system for producing each credential, suggesting a complete overhaul of the existing operation.

Details such as the cost of a passport to hopeful Congolese travelers are not yet known. Under Semlex, costs rose to $185 before falling again to $99 under its subsidiary Locosem last year. Semlex’ stint was the subject of much investigative reporting by Reuters, all the way back to 2017.

Dermalog has recently had its own issues with authorities in the Philippines over problems with the Land Transportation Office online portal. Delays have since been resolved.

The news emerges weeks after another biometrics deal with the DRC. Israel’s Pangea was awarded a $70 million PPP contract to devise a centralized automatic criminal biometrics identification system (ABIS). Pangea is also reported to have bid for the passport contract.

Other passport bidders, according to Africa Intelligence reporting in July, included IN Groupe and Toppan.

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