Semlex, an independant belgian company, is one of the few companies to offer an identification and authentication solution by biometrics and the first one to propose this technology in Africa. How has this company made biometric security of our identity documents possible?
Discover here the story of Semlex group…
It takes place in the head office of Semlex Europe, situated in Brussels, in an Art deco style building, where the general director, Albert Karaziwan, explains us how a small Belgian company became a major actor in the field for the creation of secure identity document and biometric identification on a world scale.
Semlex, (which means « the sense of the law » in Latin), was born from the observation of its CEO, Albert Karaziwan, that the world evolved towards a growing need for security, which couldn’t be reached without more reliable identity documents. Semlex proposes identification solution by biometrics, allowing the creation of documents and a database grouping together information that can be checked in case of doubt about the traveller’s identity or the truthfulness of the document. This verification is done by a simple comparison of the fingerprints by the system created by SEMLEX, the BNS (Biometric Network System).
The objective ,from the very beginning of the compagny, is clear : to set up and manage a system which guarantees to citizens a strengthening of the national security level, and surpass the traditional methods of security (picture: one of Semlex' portable registration unit)
Semlex adventure begins in 1992. At that time, people began to get interested in biometrics, but the technology is not yet integrated into identity documents. At that time, SEMLEX company launched into the African market, in response to the high number of identity frauds. Indeed, the identity cards of the time were certified (as in Europe) by a ID photo and sometimes a signature, but it was not enough to fight against falsifications and usurpations of identity (especially in Ivory Coast, one of the first country to have asked Semlex for secure documents). In 2001, Semlex created the first professional biometric card for Chad, followed by the first chadian biometric identity card. Albert Karaziwan recalls: "There was a need of security in the country, as there were many attemped frauds. We responded offering the best technology the reeforce national documents with fiduciary and biometric features"
ID card and driving license produced by SEMLEX.
« After our work in Chad, the reliability and professionalism of Semlex became known, and others contracts have been signed. Several African countries have chosen to work with us since then» says Albert Karaziwan. The first projects of the Belgian company have taken place in Guinea-bissau, Gabon and Madagascar (where the first biometric passport of the African continent was delivered in 2006)
Today, two major projects are in progress in Mozambique and in Democratic Republic of Congo. In Mozambique, Semlex offers a « complete » solution. What does the company mean by that? « It’s matter of following the project from A to Z, that is, from the process of making and personalizing the documents, until their delivery to the citizens », tells us Albert Karaziwan.
Indeed , we know that the company acquired its own printing house in 2014, a company specializing in fiduciary printing. Albert Karaziwan explains that « To complete our (Semlex) intervention and offer a complete service to our customers, SEMLEX has acquired this printing house. So we can control the entire production chain, which guarantees the quality of our documents »
Semlex runs now many projects in Africa, as well as in Europe: Ireland, Georgia and Lithuania to name a few.
One thing’s for sure, this company, by its commitments with the countries in which it works and its « turnkey » solutions, has a bright future.