From Receipts to Renewal: Cameroon’s Quest for Efficient ID Card Issuance

May 27, 2024

On May 13, 2024, the Government of Cameroon awarded a 15-year Build, Operate, and Transfer contract to the German firm AUGENTIC, entrusting them with the production of National ID cards in a bid to enhance efficiency. The difficulties encountered in obtaining national ID cards in recent years have been a source of frustration for many, and this partnership with AUGENTIC offers a promising solution. However, it prompts reflection on why a Cameroonian software company was not chosen for the task, given the prevalence of foreign software providers in both public and private sectors. For instance, Sage dominates the Central African market with ERP solutions that may not entirely align with local needs.

The prevailing explanation for this preference for foreign expertise is the perceived underdevelopment of the domestic software industry, particularly in handling enterprise-level or institutional management software. Nonetheless, there exist notable Cameroonian companies, such as Advance IT Group and Maviance PLC, which have successfully developed software solutions utilized by alot of Cameroonian businesses. Given the opportunity, these companies could rise to the challenge of creating an ID card issuance system tailored to local requirements.

However, the decision to contract a foreign company like AUGENTIC may not solely stem from a lack of trust in local capabilities. Other factors, such as AUGENTIC’s proven track record in producing ID systems and their experience working with governments, likely influenced the decision. Moreover, outsourcing to a foreign entity may mitigate concerns about political interference and corruption in the ID card production process.

Nevertheless, there remains a need for policies aimed at fostering the growth of the domestic software engineering industry. By bolstering support for local companies and fostering trust in their capabilities, Cameroon can cultivate a competitive landscape that rivals foreign software providers, ultimately promoting technological self-reliance and economic development.