Malawi, which is the only country in Southern Africa and Comesa without national identity cards (IDs), had been under pressure to fast-track the process of issuing the IDs to address the challenges the country has long faced due to the absence of the documents.

Malawians currently use driving licenses, passports, and in some cases voter registration certificates as proof of their citizenship in places and institutions where identification is needed.

Those who don’t have such documents are asked to bring any person with a passport or driving license to be a witness.

Spokesperson for the National Registration Bureau (NRB) Norman Fungatira said in an interview that they hoped by the end of this year, they would have registered nine million Malawians in the third stage of the registration process.

He said the NRB was carrying out a registration exercise so that Malawi should be in line with its Southern African counterparts as it was the only country in the region without national identity cards.

According to the spokesperson for NRB, Norman Fulatira, they are in the second phase of the registration process which involves registering civil servants.

The registration phase which has started with districts in the central region of Malawi which are Nkhotakota, Mchinji and Dowa has faced a lot of hitches which included among other things solar power equipment failure and incompetence of some registration clerks when using the equipment.

This has led to the centre registering less people than expected.

But the Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Cecilia Chazama has since promised that they will address the problems so as to reach the targeted goal.

The government launched the National Registration Bureau in 2007 to oversee the process of issuing national identity documents yet it has been 10 years for the bureau to begin the process of registering people for the IDs.