By Tata Mbunwe
The government of Cameroon has blamed identity theft and double identity for the delays in producing citizens’ national identification cards, also promising to step up daily production of IDs from 10,000 to 15,000 daily.
The General Delegation for National Security announced on Friday, 8 January, following intensified pressure on the government as an online campaign dubbed #IWantMyID gained steam.
Thousands of Cameroonians have suffered enormous delays in obtaining their national identification cards and passports, with some people having to wait for their ID cards for up to two years.
During a press conference on Friday, the Delegate General for National Security said a new system will be put in place to produce passports within 48 hours meanwhile the ID card system will also be modernized to curb double identity issues.
The delegate noted that the old system of producing IDs had many flaws, one of them being the possibility of establishing several cards for the same person, which gave way for people to produce several identities used to commit crimes.
More than three million Cameroonians are in the situation of double identity, with 245,000 IDs still uncollected at police stations all over the country.
Cameroon currently has 280 identification stations and 50 mobile stations for the production of 10,000 cards per day which will soon be increased to 15,000 cards daily.
*Combating identity theft: the challenges of digitized ID system*
Cameroonian authorities long identified the issue of double identity and identity fraud as the main cause of the delays in issuing national identification cards.
In August 2016, the government introduced a new identification system that involved the biometric production of national IDs.
Although the digitized system was meant to overhaul fraud and identity theft in the country, it did not, however, ease the production of the document as people still cue at police stations, four years after, to acquire identity cards.
To produce the digital IDs government contracted a French company, Gemalto, which claimed the digitized ID system was innovative which put Cameroon above other African nations in the production of secured identity documents.
The IDs are produced three months after being applied for with some taking up to six months, but some Cameroonians have had to wait for over a year without seeing their identification cards.
Although a temporary Identity card is usually issued, only the original ID can be used to do bank transactions or acquire some official documents.
Editor Windle, a Buea-based structural engineer, says after applying for an identification card in 2019, it has not been printed yet and he has done at least six extensions on the temporary identification card.
He added that, for over one year now, he has been unable to perform bank transactions because his original document is not available.