The House of Parliament has on Tuesday 22nd March 2022, unanimously ratified an agreement for the issuance of a securitized Multi-purpose Identity cards for national, non-national and the ECOWAS identifications cards to be used on demand within the ECOWAS Region.

Addressing Members of Parliament, the Internal Affairs Minister David Panda-Noah , disclosed that the expected benefit of the agreement is that, citizens and non-citizens residence in Sierra Leone can now have their identity legally recognized with regards to their legal status.

He added that the production of the identity cards will enable citizens to have equitable access to health care service and other national /public service. He said the financing of the agreement is the sole responsibility of the company with a public private partnership agreement at no cost to government.

The Internal Affairs Minister assured Members of Parliament that  the agreement will be executed in accordance with all fiscal conditions and incentives  in line with the Ministry of Finance directives. He added that the profit-sharing agreement indicates 25% to government and 75% to vendor for the first ten years; 30% to government and 70% to vendor for the last five years.  David Panda-Noah also anticipated that an estimated population target for the first ten years is envisaged for   four million population at a card cost of Le 75,000 for each card.  He added that for the last five years, they will be also targeting five million population at the same Le75,000 per identity cards.

In order to ensure proper identification authentication using a unique identifier, the Internal Affairs Minister said the identity cards shall be mandatory to access services including transactions with financial institutions. He emphasized that the identity cards will be also used for recruitment in public and private institutions in ensuring consistency in terms of information and verification.  He furthered that the identity cards will be also used for educational enrolment, Sim cards registrations, drivers licenses, and NASSIT enrolment.

Panda Noah also revealed that capacity building of National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) staff on identity cards production and management of the data are also embedded in the agreement. He also disclosed that the type of identity cards that will be produced include the following: the Sierra Leone Identity cards exclusively limited to Sierra Leoneans, the ECOWAS Identity cards on demand to be use within ECOWAS Region, the Sierra Leone ECOWAS Identity cards on demand for Sierra Leoneans wishing to travel within ECOWAS Member Countries, and non-national identity cards mandated for all foreign residence in Sierra Leone.

“Mr. Speaker Honorable Members of Parliament, be it resolved that this Honorable House hereby ratifies the following agreement which was laid on the table of this house on Thursday 17th March 2022”, he said.

The Leader of the Opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) Hon. Chernor Bah commended the agreement. He said the process of the agreement started in 2015/2016 during President Koroma’s regime. Hon. Chernor Bah appealed for the reduction of the L75,000 unit cost for the identity cards.  He also encouraged the Minister to revisit the agreement for possible adjustment of the $15 for the ECOWAS identity cards valid for just one year.  He concluded by appealing to the Minister to either revisit the figure or increase the validity year for the ECOWAS Identity cards. The Agreement was unanimously ratified by the House of Parliament due to its non-controversial status.