Ugandan ePassports, driving licences and other security documents will soon be produced within the country, according to a plan by the Ministry of Works and Transport.
Winstone Katushabe, the Commissioner for Transport Regulation and Safety in the Ministry of Works and Transport, says that once the Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC) factory in Entebbe is complete, all the security documents will be locally produced.
The Commissioner announced this at a function to assess USPC’s performance since it started its operations in Uganda, a year ago. USPC is a joint venture between the state-owned Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation and German firm Veridos, and was established to run the Uganda Driver Licensing System.
It produces and issues secure, computerised driving licences. It is also responsible for the issuance of ePassports. Lavrent von Buren, USPC’s Finance Director, says that the production line will cost Sh41 billion (around $11.5 million) and that construction work is expected to start a few weeks from now.
He adds that in the first eight months, they expect to have completed two production lines, one for security plastic documents such as driving licences and national identity cards, and another for paper documents such as passports.
He adds that, although they will start at 20% production capacity for paper passports, they are very optimistic, if all goes well, the facility will reach full capacity within 18 months. USPC has managed to issue over 24,000 driving licences against a target of 300,000 since it started operations on 1 March 2021.
According to Katushabe, under the service level agreement between the ministry and USPC, one of the key performance indicators is to issue a driving licence within one hour from the time a client enters their facility, which he says they have done consistently to satisfaction.
He adds that they have been challenged with occasional system breakdowns, especially from those they interface with like the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
Moses Mwesigwa Kamanyire, a USPC board member, mentioned that in the future, the company is to operationalise a mobile platform to reach out to customers who cannot visit their offices and to open offices in the newly created cities.
He adds that they have managed to reduce turnaround time for upcountry issuances from 48 to 36 hours, and they are looking forward to reducing that figure further.