Saturday Feb 21, 2009 Zanzibar rejects smart cards as identities ISSA YUSSUF in Zanzibar, 21st February 2009 @ 09:45 Authorities in Zanzibar are against the proposed technology of using smart cards as national identification cards. They also say the project is too expensive and that they were not involved fully in the project. Both Minister for State- Office of the Zanzibar President Mr Suleiman Othman Nyanga and the Zanzibar Identity Card Registration Office Director Mr Mohammed Juma Ame, refuted reports that Zanzibar identity card office was among the dropped tender applicants for the project ."These are speculations. We did not apply for the union ID project, but we are against the smart card idea," Minister Nyanga who is responsible for registration of Zanzibaris, told the 'Sunday News'. He said that he had invited the Union Government (Home Affairs ministry) in 2006/2007 to come and study the ‘quality of Zanzibar IDs' in order to get experience.Mr Ame said that his office was against the idea of using smart cards because the cards are ‘not durable especially when folded or in contact with water'. "We have attended at least two consultative meetings about the process of Union IDs. We advised them to drop the idea of using smart cards because they are four-times the cost of other IDs such as IDs in Zanzibar, Kenya, Israel and other developed countries," Mr Ame told the 'Sunday News'. Mr Ame said that two dimensions barcode (2D-barcode) identity cards such as the ones used in Zanzibar were sufficient for Tanzanians. "What we need to store on the cards are specifically fingerprint and a photo of each adult. Smart cards can store more information but it is unnecessary for majority of Tanzanians especially those in rural areas," Mr Ame added. He said his office with experts from a company in Israel had technology capable of data storage and production. He, however, refrained from applying for the tender because of their small capacity in data collection. "Our data collection is limited to about a million population while the Union IDs project is for half the population of Tanzania," he noted. The 'Sunday News' learned that the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) in collaboration with Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) conducted a feasibility study and advised the Home ministry to first work with local institutions and get advice on the process of IDs production. The UD and TBS teams had proposed to the ministry to work or seek experience from institutions dealing with registration such as National Electoral Commission (NEC), Immigrations, RITA (Registration, Insolvency, and Trusteeship Agency), and Zanzibar Identity Cards Registration Office. Mr Ame said that the ministry did not consider the UD and TBS recommendation. Instead, it shifted the task to Gotham International Limited consultants who ‘probably advised them to float international tender'.