• Laurent Dona Fologo, Chairman of the Economic and Social Council, is first citizen to receive biometric passport
  • Production site established in Abidjan and operational just 4 months after the contract announcement

Brussels – Abidjan, 21 August 2008 – Zetes Industries, a leading pan-European company in value-added solutions and services for automatic identification of goods and people, has officially started production of the new biometric passport for the Republic of Ivory Coast. The new passport is the most advanced in the African continent and one of the most advanced in the world. The first new biometric passport was presented on July 30th, at an official ceremony in the Hotel Ivoire, in Abidjan, and was handed to the Chairman of the Economic and Social Council. Zetes also officially opened its first local office in Africa (“Zetes Côte d’Ivoire or Zetes CI), initially employing 25 staff. As planned, the personalisation site was operational just 4 months after the contract was signed.  

Zetes CI was selected as the exclusive technical partner of SNEDAI (Société Nationale d'Edition de Documents Administratifs et d'Identification - National Publishing Company for Administrative and Identification Documents) and granted a 15-year concession. The Republic of Ivory Coast opted in favour of an electronic biometric passport in line with the recommendation by ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) that all member states have to replace their present passports with more secure passports.

A secure and technically advanced identity document

During the past few months, the concession holder, SNEDAI, and its technical partner, Zetes CI, have been actively preparing for the official launch of the project and developed a very high security personalisation site in Abidjan. This site centralises, in digital format, all the data needs to personalise the passports: photo, names, address, fingerprints and signature of the bearer.

Besides the central personalisation site, local registration offices where citizens can request their passports and register their personal data, have also been set up. Three enrolment centres have already opened their doors in Abidjan. Other centres will be set up later on in various cities and Ivorian embassies abroad. Each of these registration offices features fingerprints scanners, computers a photo booth and equipment to digitally store signatures.

The enrolment centers register the biographic (civil status) and biometric (fingerprints and photography) data of the petitioner. These data are then encrypted and sent electronically to the personalisation office, which centralises all the data, controls their uniqueness thanks to AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) technology and personalises the passports.

Zetes CI estimates it will produce around two hundred thousand passports per year (5 years validity period) for the entire population of about 18 million. The project will have a duration of 15 years and should generate, over this period, a revenue of more than 60 million euros for Zetes CI. It will contribute to the objectives announced for 2008 for the People ID division.

Ronny Depoortere, Vice-President and Director of Zetes PASS: “We are very happy with the progress of the project and our collaboration with SNEDAI and the Ivorian Government. We managed to start up the complete technical process in a secure production site. Our regional office now employs 25 highly skilled and motivated people. All employees but one – a Belgian expert - are local staff, mainly administrative forces, like enrolment officials, or technical specialists, engineers and ICT specialists. Ivory Coast is a country with great potential and very open to new technology and the concept of safe travel documents. This will certainly help us during the rollout of this project.”

Alain Wirtz, Zetes’ CEO: “We are very proud with the successful launch of our first subsidiary in Africa within the planned time frame. Zetes Côte d’Ivoire will naturally be focussing on the rollout of the new biometric passports within the Republic, but will also expand to become an operational base in supporting our future growth within the African continent, and the West African Sub region in particular.”

-ENDS-

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