Iris to promote chip-based passport in West Africa


  • Business
  • Friday, 30 May 2003

BY HONG BOON HOW

Iris Corp Bhd is confident of using Nigeria as a platform to promote greater use of the company's chip-embedded passport system in West African countries. 

Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said the company had signed a two-year agreement worth RM246mil with a Nigerian partner to supply equipment, services and systems for the implementation of the electronic passport system. 

“As Nigeria is a dominant player in the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) grouping of 15 nations, we are expecting this development to spur other West African countries to consider our system,” he told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. 

Tan Sri Razali Ismail (rght) and Tan Say Jim

Iris specialises in an electronic identification systems that integrate several proprietary and generic technology to produce a fully operational computing solution for high security applications. 

The company had signed an agreement with Iris Smart Technologies Ltd on May 24 to supply 5.5 million passport substrates with silicon chips for embedding into Nigerian passports. 

The agreement is also meant to develop comprehensive end-to-end passport applications and issuance systems for 39 locations in Nigeria and 51 sites outside Nigeria. 

It also called for a passport personalisation system, passport laminates with security features and the setting up of border control autogates for air and land ports at eight locations. 

Razali, the former United Nations General Assembly president, said Nigeria was the third country after Malaysia and Myanmar to adopt the company's chip-embedded passports. 

He said the new passport system would help the country check the rampant forgeries of passports. 

Razali also said the company was looking at setting up a showcase to promote the chip-embedded passport system to delegates of the coming Organisation of Islamic Conference meeting, which was scheduled in Kuala Lumpur in October. 

Iris managing director Tan Say Jim said the Nigeria passport contract was expected to bring a “decent'' margin but declined to elaborate. 

He said Iris' success in securing the contract was a milestone for the company as it was rare for developing countries to acquire high-level security systems from another developing country. 

Iris posted a pre-tax profit of RM4.2mil on a turnover of RM10.1mil in the first quarter ended March 31. 

It said the results were mainly attributable to the sale of hardware and contributions from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) project as well as from its associated company Iris Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd. 

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