Source: Biometric Update
[Extract from: “Digital ID in Africa this week”]
As the national ID card continuation is sworn into law, ID policy in Côte d’Ivoire is proving increasingly controversial. Notions of citizenship and nationality are coming to the fore again as the current cards reach expiration and the nation looks ahead to the all-consuming 2020 presidential elections.
The country’s first batch of biometric ID cards were issued in June 2009 with a 10-year validity. They were made by Semlex who was controversially awarded the contract for the next ECOWAS-compliant batch, despite public criticism following scandals elsewhere in Africa and allegations of President Alassane Ouattara’s son being courted by the Belgian firm to help secure the contract, according to Africa Intelligence. Despite not starting out as a favorite, Semlex beat both Idemia and Zetes, both of which have interests in the country already.
The contract with Semlex could be highly lucrative. The company will receive no funding to produce the 36 million cards required over the next 12 years, including 12 million in the next two alone. But it will be charging 5,000FCFA (US$8.60) per card. The initial issuance in 2009 was free and 5,000FCFA is a large sum of money, especially as the president has announced the card will become compulsory to everyone over the age of 16. It can be issued to children as young as 5.
The country is establishing a National Register of Physical Persons (RNPP) to which the ID cards will be linked. Controversy has continued as former president Henrie Konan Bedie has reignited his notions of Ivoirité (‘Ivorian-ness’) which proved disastrous in previous elections and could incite more violence around next year’s polls as accusations fly around the incumbent also using identity as a means to maintain power.
In the meantime, the government has extended the validity of the millions of cards already in use until the end of December. Konan Bedie has reportedly demanded a two-year extension to ensure the six million card holders have the necessary ID to register to vote in the 2020 election.