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Nepal's government has geared up its effort to distribute biometric national identity (NID) cards to 117,000 citizens within the next 18 months.

Following the parliamentary committee’s enquiry into allegations of irregularities related to the project, which found no evidence of foul play, the National ID Card Management Centre has been given the all-clear to go ahead with the scheme and has now signed an agreement with Safran Identity and Security worth nearly $5 million to get the system up and running.

Safran has already begun installing the necessary hardware and expects to complete it in a year, with card distribution to commence as soon as the system becomes operational. The company will produce 110,000 cards using secondary data available at the Election Commission, and will make another 7,000 cards for civil servants through live enrolment process. NIDMC has said, however, that it is likely to take more than five years to distribute biometric NID cards to citizens across the country.

The new design for the Nepalese eID card
The new design for the Nepalese eID card

Once the first phase of the project is completed, the cards will be distributed to 15 districts in the second phase, 25 districts in the third, with the remaining districts getting the new document in the fourth phase. Safran is expected to set up the hardware system and produce cards for the first phase before handing it over to the government. NIDMC will implement the remaining phases using its own manpower, with the help of District Administration Offices.

The new ID cards are to be used to provide citizens with a secure method of identity verification and to help facilitate the effective delivery of government services. The card is also to be linked to individual bank accounts with ATM functionality to withdraw cash, and will also be used in government elections.

The National Identity System is one of the key programmes identified in the eGovernment Masterplan of Nepal. It is a first step in creating an ecosystem of trusted identities which promises to transform the lives of citizens, from the busy streets in Kathmandu to villages in the Himalayas.

The programme will give each Nepalese national a unique proof of identity backed up by the highest level of reliability, security and confidentiality making the new card ‘the mother of all identification documents in the country’, according to NIDMC.

The implementation and delivery of the project will be expanded on by the National ID Management Centre, Nepal, during the High Security Printing Asia conference in their paper titled: Delivering Quality Services to All Citizens through National ID Card – Nepal’s National eID Programme.

HSP Asia will take place in Singapore from 5-7 December and features over 40 expert presenters, alongside an exhibition of industry suppliers in the secure government printing field. Find out more at www.hsp-asia.com.