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Jamaica prepares for digital ID awareness campaign, biometric passport rollout

Jamaica prepares for digital ID awareness campaign, biometric passport rollout

The government of Jamaica says a sensitization campaign on the implementation of the National Identification System (NIDS) will soon begin as a procurement process to that effect is being finalized after the process failed last year. This comes as the country is looking forward to the rollout of its new generation biometric passport from 31 March.

Efforts to operationalize ID system

Responding to questions from members of Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee recently, the Minister of Finance and Public Service Nigel Clarke said the government is working to ensure the operationalization of the NIDS.

To achieve this goal, he said there are two things it is looking to accomplish with funds from the 2023/2024 budget: to get the National Identification and Registration Authority and the National Identification and Registration Inspectorate functioning properly, reports Jamaica Observer.

Clarke told the opposition spokesman on Finance that as pat of the plan, government intends to increase the number of biometric enrolment centers for the ID card, saying they intend to ask for 19 post offices across the country to be transformed into enrolment centers.

The program for the issuance of the digital ID cards, the Minister mentioned, will be done alongside a campaign to issue free birth certificates dubbed ‘Operation Birthright.’ These birth certificates are to enable those to who they are issued to apply for the national ID card, the outlet notes.

Speaking about the education campaign for the ID cards, the Minister for Information Robert Morgan is quoted as saying that “I suspect that within this quarter, the public education efforts will start before the rollout of the sites.”

He said work to finalize the procurement process for the education and awareness campaign is ongoing in collaboration with the Inter-American Bank (IAB), which is supporting the Jamaican government on the national ID card project.

Jamaica announced a pilot for the new national digital ID last December.

Biometric passport rollout by month-end

In the meantime, the issuance of a new highly secure biometric passport for Jamaican citizens is set to begin on Friday 31 March, according to Chief Executive Office of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) Andrew Wynter.

As reported by Loop News, the current generation of passports will remain in use until their expiry. Fees have not been hiked for the new version.

PICA said in a news release that the new biometric passport, which has an electronic chip containing the biometric and biographic information of the holder, is meant to enhance the security of the document in the face of growing insecurity.

Commenting on the development, Wynter said the introduction of the new passport adds Jamaica to the list of more than 150 countries that issue biometric passports.

“Over the years, PICA has been infusing state-of-the-art technology into its operations to equip the agency to effectively undertake its mandate of securing Jamaica’s borders and safeguarding its sovereignty by providing quality service and products to its citizens,” said Wynter as quoted by Loop News.

Jamaican says the operationalisation of the ID system and the introduction of the new biometric passport are part of the country’s digital innovation package which includes the planned installation of biometric gates at the country’s borders to facilitate passenger screening.

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