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Sierra Leone urges citizens to obtain biometric ID cards for security, services

Sierra Leone urges citizens to obtain biometric ID cards for security, services

The National Civil Registration Authority of Sierra Leone (NCRA) is calling on citizens and residents in the country to acquire biometric national ID cards introduced early last year.

Personalization for the cards with ICAO-compliant biometrics and public key infrastructure for signing that data is provided by X Infotech, according to a case study from the company.

The campaign for the uptake of the ID is intended to enhance holders’ personal security and to enable them easily have access to government and private sector services, local newspaper The Calabash reports.

The government agency says all citizens who have attained the age of 12 are eligible for the card, and can visit any of the nearest NCRA branches in their district for an application. It hopes to see an increase in the number of registrants in the course of 2024.

Designated centers and six specific offices have also been opened throughout the country, and locations the government says are easily-accessible, as part of efforts to facilitate the ID registration process.

The NCRA, according to the media outlet, has emphasized the importance of the highly secure and innovative ID card, saying obtaining it is a civil responsibility which citizens must fulfil.

The ID-issuing authority says the cards will not only streamline the way individuals access public services, they will also contribute to the security architecture which the West African country is trying to build.

The card contains an embedded chip which carries the face biometric information of the holder, to enable easy ID authentication. It also has an 11-digit National Identification Number (NIN) which acts as a unique identifier linked to the personal details of the card holder in the national population registry. Officials say the NIN will henceforth be a requirement for students of the primary education sector preparing to take pubic examinations.

As part of the use cases, the NCRA has also directed that from this year, the biometric ID card will be required at all of the country’s checkpoints for those travelling around the country.

Early last year, Sierra Leoneans complained bitterly after the government decided to increase fees for obtaining ID cards and other identity credentials.

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