By Abubakarr Harding
In the wake of the recent notification by the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) that shortly it will commence issuing Identification Cards, the institution has on the 10th November 2022 in collaboration with Contrast Systems – the company hired to print securitized ID cards trained staff on the Processes and Procedures involved in the production and issuance of securitized ID Cards at Sierra Palms Hotel in the West End of Freetown.
The Sierra Leone House of Parliament on March 22 unanimously ratified the agreement between the NCRA and Constrat Systems SL Limited for the production of securitized ID cards (National and ECOWAS Compliant), ID Verification Systems and Public Key Infrastructure.
It was further stated that NCRA will produce four categories of securitized, digitized and multi-purpose ID cards:
– Sierra Leone National ID Cards (limited to Sierra Leoneans)
– Sierra Leone ECOWAS ID Card (on demand for Sierra Leoneans wishing to travel within ECOWAS member countries consistent with ECOWAS protocol to promote free movement, integration, trade liberalization, etc)
– ECOWAS ID Card (on demand for use within ECOWAS member countries)
– Non-National ID Card (mandatory for all foreign residents in Sierra Leone).
NCRA Director General Mohamed Mubashir MASSAQUOI said that the production and issuance of the ID cards are imminent.
“We want to encourage everybody that professionalism is key in all of this,” he admonished staff at the training, emphasizing the need to avoid corrupt practices. “We will not allow the conduct of one individual or a few people to smear our character and image. We will resist that with appropriate discipline,” he said.
The cards, when launched,shall be mandatory for accessing social services including transactions with Financial Institutions, Immigration Services, Vehicle Registration and Licenses, recruitment into public and private institutions, NASSIT enrolments, Land Property Registration, enrolment into educational institutions including public exams, Sim Card Registration, Business Registration and Incorporation among others, he furthered.
In his PowerPoint presentation, Kassem Jiha, Software Developer at Constrat Systems informed trainees that clients wishing to apply for ID Cards must have registered with the NCRA as a primary requirement for issuance of ID cards.
Jiha emphasized that data processing and storage solely rest in the hands of NCRA. Constrat will depend on NCRA’s data for the printing of ID Cards. He said NCRA and Constrat Systems will identify and established outlets and centres where the ID cards will be applied for and issued.
Marwan Fawaz, IT Manager at Constrat System, said NCRA will adopt an approach which will ease burden of travel on clients applying for the ID cards. Clients applying for ID Cards from outside Freetown for instance, would not need to travel to Freetown to apply or receive their cards but would receive them at the center of application.
According to Fawaz, clients will receive automated messages regarding every stage of the process up to completion and collection of the ID cards. Through the automated messages, clients will be able to know when their cards are ready for collection. Upon collection, a receipt will be issued immediately to mark the end of the process.
According to Fawaz, there will be a thirty-day grace period for which the client would collect their ID cards after which a minimal fee might be levied. He said the process will be transparent as clients will be privileged to access their information before their ID cards are printed. He therefore advised for clients to see their information before request is made.
DG Massaquoi said it has been a long time since Sierra Leone last produced an ID card. He said the ID Cards will have unique security features that cannot be counterfeited, reproduced or manipulated. He said owners will be proud to possess the cards when they are produced because they will meet regional and international standards.