Gambia government has finally given the making of the country’s national identity cards to a controversial Belgian company, Semlex, after months of delay.
Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, has urged all eligible Gambians to register with the Immigration Department to acquire the Gambian National ID card, which would be rolled out to the public by October 1st, 2018.
The President made the call at the State House on Friday morning after he underwent the process of registration for the national document.
As the number one citizen, the President was the first to register and get issued the national document, followed by the Vice President and the First Ladies.
The process was supervised Director General of Immigration, Semlex Project Director for Gambia, and the Minister of Interior, at a brief demonstration ceremony at the State House.
“The ID card is for Gambians. We want to make that very clear for everybody living in this country. We have rules and regulations that people have to follow. We want everyone to follow the due process to get every Gambian registered,” President Barrow told the State House Press Corps.
He described it as “a great pleasure and honor’’ for both himself and the government.
The Vice President, Ousainou Darboe, also spoke to the media and appealed to Gambians that are qualified by law to apply for the national document, emphasizing that only Gambian national must be in possession of the document.
“We must jealously guard our national ID cards. We should not allow foreigners to have access to our national document. Let us welcome non-citizens, accommodate them and provide them with all facilities but we should never allow anyone who is not a Gambian to be in possession of our national documents,” he said.
The resumption of ID card production is a big relief for the country, said the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Ebrima Mballow, while appreciating the patience exercised by Gambians throughout the contract renegotiation period. He added that by the 1st of October, the enrollment of ID card to citizens will commence but centralized in Banjul. It will have spread across the entire country by December.
“It is the first step in the new dispensation in The Gambia’’, said the Semlex Country Project Director, Didier Cornil. He explained that the IDs are a big advantage for citizens because it is ECOWAS standard ID; and like the ECOWAS biometric passport, the quality of the document is a high standard and acceptable in most ECOWAS countries.
He also added that the new ID product has improved security features, including a chip that stores all the biometrics. It is 100% biometric that scans all the ten fingerprints.
Explaining the registration procedure, the Director General of The Gambia Immigration Department, Mr. Buba A. Sagnia, said each applicant must either produce an old ID document, birth certificate, voters’ card, or a copy of a passport as proof of Gambian citizenship.
“We complement those [methods] with vigorous interrogation to establish whether the applicant is Gambian or not. In case of lost documents, one has to produce an affidavit of support and a Police report, or attestations from Alkalo and Seyfo. ID cards are security for our citizens, so we can identify our citizens from non-citizens,” he added.