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Security printing is the field of the printing industry that deals with the printing of items such as banknotes, passports, tamper-evident labels, stock certificates, postage stamps and identity cards. The main goal of security printing is to prevent forgery, tampering, or counterfeiting. A number of technical methods are used in the security printing industry.

Governments in sub-Saharan Africa have been investing in this sector in the mission of creating more advanced and secure standards of biometric and electronic passports, driving licenses, smart cards, national IDs, Cards, etc…Major international names engaged in implementing the biometric systems include Slovakia’s Innovatrics, Europe’s Zetes, Portugal’s Unisys, Germany’s Mühlbauer Technology Group, Belgium’s SEMLEX, Gemalto and Digimarc ID.

A highlight of some biometric and electronic projects in sub-Saharan Africa is listed below:

  • The Ghanaian government has selected Slovakian Innovatrics’s system for the implementation of biometric passports in the country. Whereas, Buck Press Limited, a Ghanaian limited liability company, is the company contracted by the Government of Ghana to supply the booklets for the biometric passports.
  • DGM-Sistemas Lda., an Angola-based information technology company, has awarded a three-year contract, to Unisys Portugal to help develop and roll out a new citizen ID card.
  • Zetes, the European leader in automatic identification solutions and services for goods and people, has been awarded a contract for the delivery of 9,500 mobile biometric kits for Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in support of the 2011 presidential elections.
  • In August 2009, Zetes and the National Company for the Issue of Administrative and Identity Documents (SNEDA) have launched their latest biometric-based projects in the Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Gemalto was selected in 2008 as sole supplier of the digital security technology to be used in electronic passports for Ivorian citizens.
  • Digimarc ID Systems had signed a contract in 2002 to integrate and supply equipment and materials to the Namibian Electoral Commission to issue Voter ID cards to 1.2 million Namibian citizens.
  • Gemalto was selected by MTN Uganda for its nationwide mobile payment program. Service rollout started in March 2009.
  • The German firm, Mühlbauer Technology Group, was selected by the Ugandan government to rollout the country’s new national identity card using smartcard technology.
  • The Tanzanian National Electoral Commission, in 2007, selected Digimarc Corporation to provide secure ID materials for the photo registration of eligible voters around the country.
  • On April 1st 2009, the biometric passport of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (which includes Cameroon, Gabon, Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville and Equatorial Guinea) was supposed to come into effect. However there has been no mention of it until the end of June2010, when the Secretariat of this sub-regional body announced that these passports will be put into circulation within one month. The "CEMAC passport is being printed by a Belgian company SEMLEX, and Interpol helps in its implementation.

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