The Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda has said Malawi has made tremendous strides in issuing to over 10 million citizens a modern biometric identity card and link the identity card with several other services such as those in the financial sector.
Chimwendo Banda made the sentiments in Lilongwe on Thursday during a press briefing, which his ministry convened as part of the activities to commemorate this year's International Identify Day, which falls on September 16.
The theme for this year's International ID Day is: "Identity, a Tool for Sustainable Digital Economy Development and National Security".
Chimwendo Banda said this theme resonates well with the usage of the Malawi ID domestically as it has become a primary and important identification tool in the financial sector, the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) by the government and national elections to mention, among others.
However, the minister stated that while the government and the National Registration Bureau (NRB), in particular, has made strides in implementing the identity system in the country, there are still some challenges that are being experienced.
He said these challenges are causing frustrations to the citizenly trying to access ID services.
"The key challenges include delays in the printing and distribution of national IDs, renewal of expired national IDs and congestion in District Registration Offices," said Chimwendo Banda.
He said in order to address these challenges, his ministry in collaboration with NRB is putting in place various strategies.
These strategies include outreach registration exercise whereby registration officers are being deployed in the communities to carry out renewals, replacement of lost and damaged cards, new registrations.
Chimwendo Banda disclosed that this exercise commenced in May 2021 and was temporarily halted in July 2021.
"But we will resume by end of this month. This exercise will help in decongest the District Registration Offices and also fast tract the renewal of expired cards," he said, adding that the ministry is also engaging a consultant to print offshore the backlog of unprinted cards.
He said the procurement process of engaging the consultant is at an advanced stage and will be finalized in due course.
"We have also procured three additional printers and spares to increase the printing capacity of IDs. The process is at an advanced stage and the printers are expected to be delivered end October 2021. Spares have also been procured to repair the seven broken printers and this process will be finalized by end of this week.
"The government has also approved the request by NRB to recruit on a permanent basis more than140 registration officers who will be deployed in mostly Post Offices so that registration services can be accessed closer to the people.
"Discussions are underway with Ministry of Finance to approve the Concept of Digitising the Revenue Collection process through use of Airtel Money, Mpamba and mobile banking. This will streamline the registration process as there will be no need to que again at the Treasury Cashier's offices for payments," narrated Chimwendo Banda.