Pristine, Semlex to produce Gambian ID cards

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Barrow government has finally decided that an indigenous Gambian technology solution company, Pristine, should work together with Semlex, a Belgian company engaged in the development and supply of technological systems in identification and authentication.

“Policy decision is that Ministry of Interior will have to work with Semlex and Pristine for the production of the national ID cards, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance for the procedures to be followed,” Presidential spokesperson, Amie Bojang-Sissoho told reporters yesterday.

On the details of the partnership arrangement between the two companies, especially when Pristine claimed to have had a valid contract for the same project that was later awarded to Semlex, by former President Jammeh, Mrs. Bojang-Sisoho, who referred this reporter to the Ministry of Interior for clarification, said it’s “an implementation question.”

However, multiple attempts to secure an interview with the Minister of Interior since July have so far proved futile.

In the same vein, separate attempts to speak with the Semlex company representative in The Gambia, Ted McEwan, were also unsuccessful. But Mr. McEwan assured that he would share interview questions with Semlex officials in Belgium, who will be in a better position to provide answers. However, this had never happened up till now, after six key questions were sent to him in August.

On 9th August, Mr. McEwan was contacted to comment on the visit of their officials to Banjul for a scheduled meeting to negotiate the contract they believed they hold legally. 

“Once the press team deems it appropriate to take interviews, I will revert. At the moment, we are dealing with loose ends and we don’t want to jump the gun. Let’s give the Government the courtesy to also make the relevant announcements,” Mr. McEwan said in an email response.

At a press conference in July, Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty said, The Gambia government was obliged to pay up to $100million to Semlex, the firm originally awarded with the national ID cards contract in 2016, should the contract be taken away from them.

Fatty said government does not have such kind of money and they do not want to go through an adjudication process with Semlex over the ID contract matter; so they were compelled to renegotiate.

“The contract was awarded by the former president, according to records,” Mr. Fatty said, adding that Semlex began importing technological equipment to implement the contract at the value of 10million. He said the machines that are supposed to do the process are still here in the country.

Notwithstanding, Semlex representative Ted McEwan has told The Point that their company does not want to fight with Pristine over the contract and so they were open to negotiations. Details are still not open to the public as we go to press.


Author: Sanna Camara