Cameroon’s new national identity card: much more than a new ID


​​​​​​Cameroon’s new national identity card

Increased security as a matter of necessity

Launched in 2016, Cameroon's new national identity card and the complete overhaul of its system of identification and card manufacture for new documents are an illustration of the will of the country's authorities to strengthen security on its territory, in particular by combating ​identity theft and document fraud.​ 

The national identity card is produced alongside other documents such as resident permits, refugee cards, professional ID cards for personnel of the General Delegation for National Security, retirement cards for public servants having worked in national security, with possibilities for extension to other public or private government bodies.​

Making the choice of technological innovation and independence

With Gemalto, Cameroon's General Delegation for National Security opted for an innovative technological solution which puts Cameroon at the forefront of African nations in the field of secure identity documents. 

The electronic and biometric identity documents, in credit card format, are designed to combat fraud and have multiple, both visible and invisible, security features incorporated into them. 

For the first time, they incorporate the laser-engraved color portrait of the holder in high definition, not on the surface, but inside the very body of the card itself.

This innovative approach is a world first. It offers the citizens of Cameroon the benefits of having an identity card which cannot be questioned.

Biometrice identity card for Cameroon 

Robust enough to resist intensive usage and extreme climates, polycarbonate is the most reliable and secure material for IDs. It is now available with color photo thanks to Gemalto Color in PC card solution. 

The polycarbonate identity documents are more resistant to humidity, heat and aging. This plastic with unique marking and durability properties makes it possible to achieve much higher rates of reliability and security than materials used in the past. We further develop in our March 2017 dossier why polycarbonate​ is getting so popular.

They are fitted with a microprocessor which combines the physical security of the document with a means of electronic security. This opens up new possibilities in electronic identification for multiple new forms of use. 

In particular, they will allows holders to have secure access to electronic services such as e-government via Internet portals, thanks to strong electronic authentication by means of a digital certificate issued by the card issuing authority.

​​Cameroon newidentity card detail

The graphic theme visible on the reverse of the new cards represents a landscape near to the village of Rhumsiki located in the Far North Province of Cameroon. Abstract geometric figures and patterns have been reproduced across the whole of this side of the card, drawing upon traditional Cameroonian fabrics for inspiration. 

Holders of these cards will also be able to electronically sign documents with a digital certificate. 

Finally, the new identity cards are biometric and have ten fingerprints built into them. Biometrics has been chosen because it has rapidly established itself as the most suitable technology for reliably confirming the identity of the holder and thus for effectively combating identity theft. 

Cameroon is at the same time also modernizing its solution for the enrolment of citizens opting for Gemalto's Enrolment platform and its card personalization with it secure i​ssuance software which implements color laser engraving technology.​ 

Mobile verification​ 

The authorities have also opted for mobile verification terminals from Gemalto. 

Thanks to a comprehensive training, maintenance and knowledge transfer program delivered by Gemalto, the DGSN will be able to operate the fully integrated system totally independently. The DGSN will thus be in a position to itself handle citizen enrolment and the issuance of personalized cards, then verify the cards using the terminals supplied.​

By choosing Gemalto, Cameroon


Has opted in favor of​

  • innovation in digital security technology,
  • a chain of trust that is more secure and managed from end to end,
  • a solution that puts it at the forefront of African nations in the field of secure identity documents
  • a committed, expert and fair approach, with an ongoing concern for the general interest, to meeting the expectations of the DGSN and the people of Cameroon​.
Has joined forces with 
  • the world leader in digital security,
  • a​​ major player in the modernization of states,
  • a supplier experienced in the new generation of complete secure solutions
  • a specialized service provider: technology transfer, consulting, integration, training and maintenance
  • an equipment supplier which is investing in Africa, and a part of whose teams are now present on the continent to develop solutions and/or carry out systems maintenance​.​

Thorough organization and crucial synergies 

In addition to the synergies between those involved and the thoroughness of the organization, Gemalto's expertise, combined with that of the Cameroonian authorities and their joint will to succeed, are of crucial importance for the success of the project. 

They illustrated how a contracting public authority and an industrial contractor can work together effectively, in close collaboration, based on a relationship of mutual trust, to define a national project on a large-scale and thus modernize the country.

Making the move towards a deeply transformed system, with digital identity 

Cameroon and Gemalto are convinced that securing the national identity of citizens and protecting their privacy cannot be reduced to a simple upgrade of a system, nor can it be limited to just supplying a new generation of identity documents. At the same time, it is necessary to give oneself the means to adapt to the changing security, social, economic and technical environment.

This means the system has to be deeply transformed at all levels: whether it is technical requirements, reliability, security, long-term durability, project management or governance. The scope of action, previously limited to the production of identity documents, is thus extended to a complete IT overhaul of the identification system, the main objective being to further increase the level of security and protection provided.

To enable Cameroon to meet its objectives, Gemalto offers a structured tool, running within atrusted digital environment, with a high level of security, interoperability and data protection: that tool is digital identity. ​

Choosing the path of modernization to boost the economy

With the growth in electronic transactions and exchanges, digital identity offers citizens the modern means of identification they need to have secure and straightforward access to online services, whilst ensuring their privacy is respected. 

These guarantees can only help to boost activity in the public sector, thanks to the services that it is able to provide as a result (eGovernment), and to increase competitiveness in the private sector. 

In addition to greater security and better protection of identity that it brings, Cameroon's stronger identity scheme is opening the door to a digital economy of trust which it will be able to rely on. It thus contributes to the economic and social development of the country, and to its competitiveness, giving it greater national and international reach. 

Cameroon identity

Reinforcing trust

The reason why Cameroon is so clearly determined to bring its civil identity data and documents into a secure information scheme – in particular in the context of combating document fraud and identity theft – is because it is fully aware of the importance of the identification of persons as the foundation of a society which recognizes the rightful value of its citizens

Choosing the path of modernization, making the undertaking to protect the people of Cameroon, their rights and identity, and recognizing their rightful value, are all means for the state to consolidate the relationship of trust that has become essential in order to lay the foundations for the Cameroonian citizenship of the future.

What is digital identity? 

What is an electronic ID card and what is digital identity? 

An electronic ID (eID) card fulfils various roles: it acts as a traditional means of identification, as a travel document, and finally, as a passkey to the each citizen's personal data. 

The public has become accustomed to smart cards through their use in the banking system, and as a result their reliability is no longer questioned. 

eID cards are now also being used as a means of accessing an array of services that were previously difficult to synchronize. 

The electronic card and its related digital identit​y can be used for identification, but also for authentication and electronic signature. Thus, a national ID scheme enables several previously complex information paths to be simplified. 

It can be used as: 

  • A representation of sovereign authority, certifying that the holder is in a legitimate legal position with respect to his or her national jurisdiction.
  • A means for citizens to access services and exercise their rights and duties with respect to the public authorities. 
  • A genuine seal of authenticity that the citizen can use to authenticate his or her actions regardless of the exchange formats and media used, since the data used to ensure security and trust also guarantee the legal validity of any transactions certified in this way. 

By making citizens a central part of the creation of a modernized state— giving them an active role rather than a peripheral role as a passive user of public services— public services are simultaneously, de facto, repositioning themselves. Identity is made up of a private set of data, of which the State is the custodian. 

The conception of the State-Citizen relationship has been profoundly modified. We are entering a new era, in which this relationship can be expressed as a "contract" of rights and obligations. 

Citizens register for services and fulfil their obligations, and in return they benefit from the rights and guarantees offered by the community's social model. This is the very basis of the "Social Contract". 

There is more. 

The e-ID card is also a passkey to a system in which everyone has their place and can therefore make their contribution and have their say (through elections and referendums, for example): e-Democracy. 

At a time when security has become a priority, particularly in international transactions, e-ID seems essential. It is a guarantee given by one State to another within a network of trusted and interoperable national systems. 

As evidenced by The World Bank's Identification for Development report of January 2016, digital technologies, including biometrics are providing a unique opportunity to build a robust and efficient identification system for the benefits of all when backed by a strong political will. 

What's next? 

How can we help you getting the most of your identity project? 

At Gemalto, we promote the emergence of a freer and more sustainable society by making it more secure. 

We have built a structured approach and mode of contribution to government programs, sharing international experience, industrial know-how and working as a partner to public authorities in numerous countries. 

This approach addresses three main areas: 

  • Securing the identity of citizens
  • Protecting their privacy, personal data and digital rights
  • Promoting an optimal framework of trust for digital exchanges in order to create the conditions for a reliable deployment of online services.

​In the same spirit, we collaborate with our customers to analyze and promote best practices in these areas across the planet. 

If you want to reap the digital divide​nds with digital i​dentity and eGovernment services discover our August 2016 web dossier.​