Namibians will now be able to travel to Southern African Development Community countries with the new-look identity document cards without carrying passports.
President Hage Geingob launched the three new colour-coded IDs, with a quick response code replacing the initial fingerprint, while the machine-readable zone replaced the bar code.
During the launch, the President indicated that some countries such as Botswana have already agreed that Namibians do not need passports to go there if they have the new IDs.
The green-coloured IDs will be used for recognised refugees, while the original blue-coloured document is reserved for Namibians.
The pink-purple ID will be issued to Namibian permanent residents.
Home affairs minister Albert Kawana explained that several African countries have already adopted the new-look IDs, such as Botswana, South Africa, Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mauritius, Zambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Niger and Sierra Leone.
Kawana added that the new ID will be more secure as the quick response code and the machine-readable zone will contain elements that will be read by a machine.
“Likewise, with these new features, we can engage neighbouring countries to consider using these ID cards as travel documents. The ID cards are compatible with the specifications of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO),” he said.
The minister emphasised that the advantage of the new ID is that they can be linked to e-governance that has featured prominently in the country’s goals.
He reiterated that there is a need to strengthen home affairs systems, especially the population register, to enable both the public and private sectors to verify identity documents on the population register.
“The benefits will be a ripple-effect for other industries as financial crimes will be reduced, social grants will be issued only to those who are verified to be alive, ghost employees will be a thing of the past, and banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions will operate with ease because financial fraud will be minimised,” he stressed.
“Our current IDs will continue to be in use because the migration to the new IDs will be done in gradual progression. Those applying for duplicates and new IDs will be issued with the new-look IDs from today. New ID applications will be issued for free. However, duplicates will be charged to encourage our citizens to take care of their ID cards,” he said.
The minister, however, urged the public to go and collect their uncollected IDs at the ministry’s offices.