Mauritius, a small island off the east coast of Madagascar, is working hard on its smart card identification system. The Ministry of ICT is looking forward to phasing in the introduction of electronic identity cards by mid 2009.
The eID card will contain various personal details of its owner. Besides the basic identity information in visual form, it will also be used as a health card, pension card, buss pass and even a pass to access governmental services, be it on- or off-line. The card will procure access to secured areas, payment of pensions and social security benefits, electronic purses, and driving licences.
"There are a lot of applications we could put on this card, but we will have to see how we will implement all this," said a project lead from the National Computer Board.
The next step in the implementation process is to hire a consultant who will advise the government on how to best develop the project. The consultant is expected to be chosen by the end November.
While authorities are enthusiastic about the eID card system, financial implications have been a cause for concern. The creation of a PKI (public key infrastructure), which will ensure that transactions remain secure, will be the project's greatest cost. However, India will aid Mauritius in funding its PKI, thanks to an agreement signed by the countries last year.
The eID project was proposed in 2003, but it had been put aside for years, mainly due to its high cost. With funds now available, Mauritius' objective is to be the first country in the region to deliver eID cards to its citizens.