• First passport using biometrics (digital fingerprints) for Zetes
  • Establishment of a Zetes subsidiary, in an ECOWAS member state
  • Integrated supply of biometric passports

Brussels – Abidjan, 14 April 2008 – The Republic of Ivory Coast, in line with the decision by ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) that all member states replace national passports with more secure passports, has opted in favour of an electronic biometric passport. As a result, the State granted a 15-year concession to SNEDAI (Société Nationale d'Edition de Documents Administratifs et d'Identification-National Publishing Company of Administrative and Identification Documents), which selected Zetes as its exclusive technical partner for that same period, a decision that has been ratified by the Ivorian government.

The new Ivorian electronic passport will include the latest available identification technologies and will hold the following information: the photo, names, address, digital fingerprints and signature of the bearer.

The contract between SNEDAI and Zetes comprises the installation and management of an office in Abidjan in charge of customizing electronic passports, the establishment of nine census centres as well as biometric identification (AFIS).  This is a ‘build, operate and transfer’ contract, meaning that Zetes will manage the project from start to finish and will be compensated for the number of passports issued. Zetes is expected to issue the first biometric passports to Ivorian citizens in the course of of 2008. Gemalto is Zetes’ partner for this project and will supply the electronic chips used for the data storage.

The market is estimated at about two hundred thousand passports per year (5 years validity period). The project will have a duration of 15 years and should generate, over this period, a revenue of more than 60 million euros. It will start in 2008 and will contribute to the objectives announced for 2008 for the People ID division.

Ronny Depoortere, Vice-President and Director of Zetes PASS, stated: “This project is a first for Zetes. We will be in charge of every production phase of the creation process of this electronic passport. Zetes will control the various aspects of the operation from the submission of the request to the issuing of the passport, including verification and approval. In this project we will integrate almost all the technologies for identifying individuals that we have developed in recent years and that we installed in various configurations for several of our other clients. This will enable us to offer Ivory Coast a technologically advanced system for issuing passports”

M. Coffy, the Director General of the SNEDAI, continues: “Our choice naturally veered towards Zetes during the selection process as the company that would be in charge of setting up the project. Zetes is a one-stop shop for all the technological competences needed to ensure an effective implementation of electronic passports. What’s more, the company has already completed several projects in Africa. Finally, the successful installations of similar systems in the D.R.C., in Togo and in Cape Verde convinced us that Zetes was the ideal partner to achieve the goals set by Ivory Coast.”

Alain Wirtz, CEO of Zetes Group, concludes: “As a member of ECOWAS, Ivory Coast is an ideal location for establishing a Zetes subsidiary on the African continent. The discussions with the Ivorian authorities were positive in all respects. The system should be operational by early summer.”

-ENDS-