About eight million Malawians will have national identity documents (IDs) within two years once government rolls out the pilot 5 000 IDs in May this year.
Chairperson of the Public Service Reform Commission, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, disclosed on Tuesday in Lilongwe that the national ID card was expected to be launched this month.
However, due to challenges of procurement, this would only take place in May this year.
“In May 2016, we will launch the first 5 000 ID cards then 8.4 million IDs will be issued, for free, to Malawians by June 2018,” Chilima said.
The National Registration Bureau (NRB) was one of the institutions under the Ministry of Home Affairs which proposed two reform areas, one of which was to identify a contractor to set up the National Registration Identification System (NRIS) and start registration and issuance of IDs.
The bureau has since set up the system, but issuance of IDs is yet to commence.
According to an expression of interest published in September 2015, NRB was meant to identify a firm that would establish a data centre and software for the registration exercise.
The prospective firm was expected to provide five biometric registration kits to capture fingerprints, photos and signatures; print and supply 5 000 contact smart cards.
To cover the whole country with IDs, NRB requires over $25 million (around K18 billion).