President Hage Geingob has launched the new national identity card (ID) by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security has at State House.
Launching the new look ID, the President says this is a great new beginning that will allow free movement of people around Africa, which he says is a key element of African unity as the ID will also be used as a passport for travel to neighbouring countries.
He and his Botswana counterpart, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, have already agreed that the IDs could be used to travel between the two countries. The fingerprint system on the old ID will be replaced by a Quick Response Code (“QRC”), and the barcode will be replaced by a machine readable zone (“MRZ”).
Home Affairs Minister, Albert Kawana, says it is more secure as the QRC and MRZ are readable by a machine and are not easy to forge. Likewise, with these new features, they can thus engage neighbouring countries to consider using these ID cards as travel documents.
This another brick that the ministry is adding to the civil registration and identity management system for Namibia.
The ministry continues to innovate, hence new measures have also been put in place in order to ensure continuous civil registration and identity management. Kawana notes that the ID is compatible with the specifications of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). “The world is moving towards electronic innovation. I am happy to say that Africa is also moving with the world,” he adds.
In this regard, a number of African countries have already adopted the new look ID, such as Botswana, South Africa, Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mauritius, Zambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Niger, and Sierra Leon.
In addition, the advantage of the new ID is that they can be linked to e-governance. This is a welcome development because e-governance has featured prominently in the country’s goals. The E-Governance Policy for the Public Sector of Namibia was first published in 2005.
In April 2014, the e-Government Strategic Action Plan for the Public Service of Namibia (2014 – 2018) was adopted. The main objective was to support and simplify the administration, service delivery and government interaction with individuals and businesses, as well as within government itself through the use of Information and Communication Technology.
It is against this background, Kawana says, that the ministry can serve as a hub for e-governance. There is, therefore, a need to strengthen Home Affairs systems, especially the Population Register, to enable both public and private sectors to verify identity documents on the Population Register.
This will have a ripple effect on other industries as financial crimes will reduce, social grants will be issued only to those who are verified to be alive, ghost employees will be a thing of the past, banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions will operate with ease because financial fraud will be minimized.
The biometric system will replace the outdated fingerprint system which requires paper and ink, another unnecessary cost.
The minister further informs that the inclusion of the new features to the ID will have no additional financial implications. The additional features will be printed by the ministry right in Windhoek. The printing of the new look ID does not involve the use of ink but laser engraving will be used.
Current ID will continue to be in use as the migration to the new ID will be gradual. Those applying for duplicates will be issued with the new ID from today. However, duplicates will be charged to encourage citizens to take care of their ID.
The first new ID was given to President Hage Geingob, Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, and will soon be given to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Founding Father Sam Nujoma, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Lukas Sinimbo and Peter Katjavivi.