IN Groupe and Internal Affairs sign contract for e-passports |17 December 2021
Seychelles is inching ever closer to realising the project to transition to electronic biometric passports, with the signing of a contract with French-based ‘IN Groupe’, a specialist in identity and secure digital services.
It was Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseka, who signed on behalf of the Seychelles government while Vice-President for Internal Sales of IN Groupe, Walter Groppi, signed on behalf of the group, during a brief ceremony yesterday afternoon.
IN Groupe has for the past 15 years collaborated with the department of Immigration and Civil Status in delivering booklets of passports, and was awarded the contract among nine companies shortlisted after submitting their bids for the open tender launched in November 2019.
Minister Fonseka, after the signing, congratulated IN Groupe and said that the transition towards e-passports is instrumental in improving the standards and security in the country.
“Naturally it will help in ensuring visitors and ourselves, movement of people through our border is enhanced, is faster and sleeker, but above all the security element of the biometric passport allows us to enhance our border control,” Minister Fonseka noted.
Biometric passports are different from ordinary passports in the sense that they feature an electronic chip embedded in one of the pages of the document. The electronic chip contains biometric information including the bearer’s biological information concerning facial recognition, fingerprint and additional information passport’s data page. An additional element in the electronic chip is the digital signature, an important feature which provides the link to the issuing authority.
Principal secretary for the department of Immigration and Civil Status, Alain Volcère, added that with the realisation of the project, Seychelles will be in a better position to negotiate for VISA waivers.
“As Seychelles is a member of the Public Key Directory (PKD) put in place by the International Organisation for Civil Aviation (ICAO), when a foreign-passport holder goes through our system, we will know within the space of 10 seconds whether the passport has been tampered with, cloned or issued by the right authority. A Biometric passport system will thus help us to elevate our security levels considering the prevalence of criminality in the world today, so it is important that we know the identities of persons coming in and for access control at the airport. Therefore it is a significant step in border control management in Seychelles, and we will see its many fruits in the future,” Mr Volcère said.
“Through the passport, passport bearers will permit Seychellois authorities to bring their negotiations forward to other countries where Seychelles has not been granted VISA waivers. It will therefore facilitate VISA waivers. Places that will interest Seychellois are those with the diaspora, such as North America, Canada and Australia where we do not yet have a VISA-free facility,” Mr Volcère noted.
Implementation of the project is set to commence as from January 2022, and will involve identifying places for biometric capture, personalisation, and procurement of the equipment. The entire system is expected to be up-and operational towards the end of 2022.