EAC integration

ID cards to replace passports in EAC

Ugandans, Kenyans and Rwandans have already started the use of ID card to cross their borders. But in Burundi, the process of filling out the form of the ID is continuing.By Diane Uwimana

Deus Ngerageze, Technician Coordinator of the Biometric ID Project: “... but only the names, gender, issue and expired date of the ID, date and place of birth will appear on the card. Other computerized databases will be located on the hard card and will only be seen when the ID is being checked.”©Iwacu

Deus Ngerageze, Technician Coordinator of the Biometric ID Project: “… but only the names, gender, issue and expired date of the ID, date and place of birth will appear on the card. Other computerized databases will be located on the hard card and will only be seen when the ID is being checked.”©Iwacu

Since this January 2014, citizens from three partner states (Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda) have begun to use the ID to cross their respective borders without presenting any passport or pass. “We only show our ID card just to cross the Ugandan border. It only takes very few minutes,” says one Rwandan. He mentions that the measure taken by their countries has many advantages comparing to the use of the passport or pass. “If someone wanted to travel, he would first look for a passport or a pass, something which was very expensive because one was obliged to pay around $150. Today, the ID card is very cheap”, thanks that Rwandan citizen. The same view is shared by another Rwandan running his business in Burundi. “Using passport had a small limited duration, i.e. the validity time couldn’t go over five years, but an ID card will last about ten years,” he adds. However, he mentions that the new system should present some problems. “With the ID system, people will cheat and cross the border as if nothing happened”, he thinks. Oscar Bihizi, the Spokesman in the Ministry in Charge of EAC Affairs points out that people shouldn’t worry about the use of the ID. “There will no longer be any cheater because people from those countries have to fill out the same form even if each country will possess its own ID card. But it will be computerized in order to facilitate the ID control. Therefore, it will be easy to locate the thieves”, ensures the Spokesman.

“The identification is ongoing in Burundi”

The new Burundian ID card will have different validity periods following the age of people. Among people aged between 16 and 25, the ID validity will go up to 10 years. People aged from 26 to 45 years, the validity will last 20 years and those aged 46 and over, the period is indefinite. Deus Ngerageze, Technician Coordinator of the Biometric ID Project indicates the identification process is ongoing; today, people are filling out the form.
“About 37 thousand people living in Bujumbura City Council have already filled out their personal identity. And the activity will be spread all over the country. Filling out the form is free and everyone should be aware of that because when the new one is going to be used, the old one will no longer be considered,” points out Ngerageze.
Bujumbura City Council has been taken as a sample because they would like to identify and look into all possible obstacles during the implementation of the project. “We work in partnership with Chinese, if our computers do not work effectively, they automatically give us a hand and we are succeeding progressively,” notices Ngerageze.
He states that other communes of the country will be served very soon as they have already got the second complete computer equipment kit to run the activity. “The new ID card comprises all necessary information about a person. But only the names, gender, issue and expired date of the ID, date and place of birth will appear on the card. Other computerized databases will be located on the hard card and will only be seen when the ID is being checked,” highlights Ngerageze.