Zetes has been awarded a 15-year contract to implement biometric electronic passports for Gambia.

It is estimated that 40 000 passports will be produced each year as part of the subcontracting contract, in which the primary contractor is Africard.

Implementation has commenced and the first passports are expected to be delivered in December 2013.

The BOT (build, operate and transfer) project covers the biometric enrolment and document personalisation. It also includes the delivery and installation of 10 permanent enrolment posts, to be placed at various locations including embassy buildings.

Zetes will also deliver an automated identity control post (e-gate) at the airport border, marking a first for the company.

As part of the project implementation, Zetes employees are based in Banjul, the capital of Gambia, to complete AFIS duplicate removal services, centralise data, create a passport register and personalise secure documents. To this end, Zetes has set up a secure site, which will benefit from the group’s experience in the implementation of personalisation sites in other countries, such as Belgium and Ivory Coast.

In addition to its know-how in software solutions and professional services, Zetes has also manufactured specific hardware components. Six permanent enrolment posts for the biometric enrolment of applicants and capture of electronic signatures have been installed in Banjul. Additional units have been implemented at The Gambian Embassies in Brussels, London, Madrid and Washington DC.

The contract also includes the delivery and implementation of a border control gate (e-gate) which performs identity checks automatically, comparing biometric information captured on the spot with those encoded into the passport’s RFID chip.

For the first time, Zetes is also including iris recognition in a biometric authentication project. This method is an alternative to fingerprint authentication.

Zetes CEO Alain Wirtz says: “This is a strategic project for three key reasons. Firstly, the new personalisation site allows us to extend our coverage into West Africa with a physical presence. Secondly, Gambia follows Senegal as another country where we will have installed next generation enrolment posts.

“Thirdly, this project combines two firsts for Zetes, the incorporation of iris recognition in a biometric passport and installation of our very first e-gate project. This project therefore represents an excellent showcase of all Zetes’ expertise and we are appreciate the trust placed in us by both Africard and the Gambian authorities.”

The BOT contract allows the Gambian authorities to limit the level of investment required for the project. For Zetes, this type of contract contributes to the financial stability of the group, providing a clear overview of its revenue in the long term.