National Registration Bureau (NRB) says there are delays in processing renewal of expired national identity (ID) cards because the process involves changing several biometric data in the system.
In a telephone interview yesterday, NRB spokesperson Norman Fulatira said that while the NRB may have people’s information in its system, some of the changes that take place take time.
He said: “We do have details of people in our database, but if you check on the form, there is certain information that does change which needs to be corrected in our system.
“These [changing information] may include height of a person, photos, fingerprints and names in case of women when they marry and then change their maiden names.”
Fulatira was responding to concerns on why the national IDs take long when renewing despite the NRB having information in its database.
The national ID has become a primary identification document in accessing both private and public services, including banking services, registering for phone connections, new water connection and getting Covid-19 vaccines.
Fulatira said the delays are compounded by a breakdown of seven out of 12 printers centrally located at NRB headquarters in Lilongwe.
He said to rectify the situation, the NRB has since procured spare parts for the printers from South Africa plus an additional three printers scheduled to be delivered by October.
“We are hopeful that when the additional printers together with the spare parts arrive, then we will be able to meet the set standards,” Fulatira said.
NRB estimated that this year 2.9 million, IDs would expire and require renewal.
In December last year, Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda said government needed K5 billion to renew the IDs and that by then, Treasury had set aside K400 million for the procurement of blank national IDs for both new applicants and those renewing.
When asked on the status of funding yesterday, the minister said he could not competently comment on the issue, but stressed that they are receiving support from partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In a separate interview, Information and Communication Technology Association of Malawi (Ictam) president Bram Fudzulani said efficiency will be achieved if NRB becomes an independent entity with technical empowerment.
He said: “We need to make sure that NRB becomes an independent authority so that they can manage their own finances and also look at how they can bring in more stakeholders to help with various innovations.”
Fudzulani said empowering NRB technically in an independent state would enable it to handle huge projects.
He observed that most of the issues NRB struggles with were minor.
For renewing the national IDs, Malawians are paying K2 500.
The mass registration exercise of the national IDs started in May 2017.