German secure ID firm Veridos continues making moves in Africa. On the heels of a recent MOU aimed at simplifying cross-border travel between Namibia and Botswana, Veridos has issued a release announcing that its products have been selected to implement the process. This comes as the company jostles with rival firms to win a national identity card contract in Uganda.
In the two southern African nations, Veridos’ system means that citizens crossing the border in either direction can do so with only their digital ID cards. Passports will no longer be required. To coordinate this, the two nations aligned their systems with Veridos’ support. Namibia added QR codes and a machine-readable zone to its national ID cards, to match technology already present in Botswana’s cards.
“Modern border control systems represent a pivotal and strategic investment in the future of nations across the globe, safeguarding sovereignty, security, and efficient exchange in the face of global challenges,” said the CEO of Veridos, Marc-Julian Siewert.
Fight for Uganda ID contract
It has been a busy year for Veridos, which has included acquisitions, wins and kerfuffles. In February, the German firm was rumoured to be in the running for a digital ID contract in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In March, Guyana chose Veridos to deliver an ICAO-compliant ID card intended for international travel, access to public services, and verification for private transactions.
Now, it is jockeying for the contract to produce ID cards for Uganda, where the current provider is embroiled in a scandal that has divided government. In a minority report, Muehlbauer High Tech International, which previously supplied Uganda’s aging National Security Information System (NSIS), has been accused of overcharging Ugandan taxpayers for creaky infrastructure, and of circumventing the processes necessary for a new contract.
The parliamentary committee on Defence and Internal Affairs is backing Muehlbauer, which it says has the experience to do the job on time – unlike its competitor. “When we visited Veridos, they told us that by the time they finish the construction of the factory and produce the necessary materials for the identify cards, it will be in 2027,” said Rosemary Nyakikongoro, the committee chair, as reported in the Daily Monitor.
But the minority report alleges questionable overstep on the part of Nyakikongoro and her allies in moving ahead with the Muehlbauer deal.
“The committee leadership unilaterally held private interactions with Muehlbauer High Technology International, both in the country and in Germany, and these trips were not sanctioned by committee,” said member Bashir Sempa Lubega, who presented the minority report. He said Muehlbauer’s poor track record does not recommend it for renewal, and refuted Nyakikongoro’s claim that Muehlbauer has the formal support of the government.
“Muehlbauer,” he said, “has no agreement. It was terminated.”
Uganda’s first generation of national ID cards expires at the end of 2023 – meaning there is little runway for the government to confirm a vendor before the expected mass registration and renewal campaign begins.
Source: Biometric Update