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National IDs now certain

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Malawians are set to finally have National Identity cards after two decades of government promising without delivery, according to recent developments at the National Registration Bureau (NRB).

Over the weekend, government through Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security called for expression of Interest for what it called ‘Proof of Concept and Piloting for the First Phase of the National Registration and Identification System (NRIS) for Malawi’.

This development comes days after Vice President Saulos Chilima promised during a press briefing organised to update the media on public sector reforms that this time round government is serious to roll out the national identity cards.

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NRB Public Relations Officer Norman Fulatira told The Daily Times that parallel to this process of sourcing out a contractor, UNDP and other partners have recruited an expert on NRIS to work with NRB.

“The expert, who has vast experience in NRIS in Africa and beyond has already reported for duties at NRB headquarters in Lilongwe,” he said.

He said because of the availability of the expert, the proposal is that while recruiting a contractor, NRB through UNDP should use part of its financial allocations to procure basic equipment to establish a National ID Data centre in Lilongwe.

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“Thus the procurement should be through UNDP procurement system which is faster,” he said.

Fulatira said the Centre’s equipment is expected to arrive in the country by mid next month.

“Immediately after the arrival of equipment, NRB and the expert on NRIS will start installing and other preparatory activities before the contractor is recruited,” he said.

Fulatira said by the time the contractor is selected, NRB and the selected contractor will immediately proceed for field work and piloting of national registration with the field kits that the contractor will bring into the country.

“The plan is to have a National ID with a chip just to be in line with global technological advances and ICAO standards,” he said.

“Meanwhile, government and development partners are mobilizing more financial resources for a national roll out exercise after the pilot phase,” he added.

Government enacted the National Registration Act (no. 13) of 2010 to establish the department of National Registration Bureau (NRB) under the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security.

The NRB is mandated to establish, implement and maintain a National Register of Malawi.

The system includes a population register of births, deaths and marriages; as well as an NRIS for all Malawians and resident foreigners over 16 years of age and their issuance of a national identity card.

Under the current Public Service Reform Programme, the registration and issuance of National IDs is one of the identified priority areas of government.

The government has made a preliminary allocation of funds to the NRB towards the implementation of the First Phase for the registration and issuance of IDs.

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