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Sierra Leone hikes fees for obtaining biometric ID documents

Sierra Leone hikes fees for obtaining biometric ID documents

Sierra Leoneans are raising complaints after a recent move by the government to increase fees, and now in U.S. dollars, for obtaining the national ID card as well as other identity documents in the West African country.

According to local news portal Concord Times, the move announced by the Ministry of Information and Communications means that the hardship faced by a majority of citizens in the country will be made worse.

The national ID card which used to cost 12,500 Sierra Leonean Leones (SLL) of the old denomination (currently around US$0.65), will henceforth be issued at the cost of $7, around 134,400 old Leones. (The currency was redenominated in 2022 to knock three zeros off, rendering the fee 134.40 SLE.)

The announcement also mentions that ECOWAS ID cards for Sierra Leoneans traveling to other ECOWAS member states will henceforth cost US$12 while the ID card for non-ECOWAS foreign nationals will cost US$100.

“The decision by those in powers to exponentially increase prices for our National Identity card is very unreasonable. Our leaders should go back to the drawing board to reverse that decision or else many citizens cannot afford the sum,” Concord Times quotes an aggrieved citizen as saying.

The average income for people in Sierra Leone was estimated at $510 in 2021.

The National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) is also quoted as assuring citizens that it is working to put in place an ID verification and authentication system to meet the needs of users.

Sierra Leone recently concluded a deal with MOSIP to trial a national digital ID scheme based on open source technology.

The country’s electoral agency also recently announced that voter ID cards will be distributed from next month ahead of general elections in June 2023.

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