8 million voter’s cards delivered in Mali in under 30 days...

In 2013, against the backdrop of a tense political climate, leading figureheads in Mali decided to fast-track the organization of presidential elections designed to ratify a new government. In order to ensure the reliability of the electoral process, the government opted to use an existing biometric database, created during a census conducted by Safran between 2008 and 2010 and concerning all inhabitants aged 15 and over. The data, contained in the country's national civil register (RAVEC – administrative census with Vocation of Civil status), was used to produce the NINA (National Identification Number) card, so that the identity of every voter could be reliably verified. The NINA card is Mali's very first biometric identification document, providing the country's citizens with a unique and secure identity and paving the way for considerable benefits.

An ambitious project

"The contract signed with the Malian government back in May 2013 was particularly ambitious since one of the terms - non-negotiable - involved the delivery of 8 million NINA cards in under 30 days…", explains Yves Lequenne, Identity Program Manager, Safran. "Actually delivering 8 million cards in such a short time requires a huge production capacity that is available and can be reserved in a matter of days. Since Safran is one of the leading card producers, we had enough of the plastic material required in stock to get production underway. We were able to rely on the Group's production centers, which produced two million blank cards a week, resulting in an incredible 330,000 individual cards being produced every day!" specifies Yves Lequenne.

Mobilizing production teams

In order to meet the challenge set by Mali, three production teams were needed:

  • The Research and Development team based at the Osny site processed a database of 6,877,449 names, the exact number of eligible voters.
  • The card production team based in Angoulême mobilized its entire plant, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in order to produce 2 million blank cards a week.
  • The Craponne site, based in the suburbs of Lyon, set up one of the largest personalization centers ever seen, produced and personalized up to 330,000 cards per day.

Rolling out the cards in Mali

Safran met its delivery time commitments, as the last cards arrived in Bamako on June 26, 2013. Safran was not responsible for distributing the cards to voters across the country. However, to facilitate the distribution phase, Safran ensured that each package featured the codes of the region, commune, circle or district. "It should be pointed out that the district code could correspond to a neighborhood in Bamako or a Tuareg encampment to the north of Gao. Hence Safran had to take into account various administrative disparities to ensure all areas were supplied without a hitch", explains Yves Lequenne.

A few days before the elections, held on July 28, 2013, 85% of the population had received their cards, with the local press reporting that all voters were keen to get hold of their NINA cards as soon as possible.

Building on this success, can we envisage other such projects for Mali?

"The card we delivered features an identity photo on the front and a bar code containing two fingerprints on the back. This card serves not only as a voter's card, but also as a means of biometric identification for other applications: banking, civil status, health, etc. The NINA card is clearly just a first step - of many we hope - in the development process underway in Mali", concludes Yves Lequenne.

NINA cards delivered
Up to
cards produced per day

Mali in some figures

  • Land area of 1,240,192 km²
  • Population density: 11.7 inhabitants/km²
  • Population in the database resulting from the RAVEC: 13,5 million of people divided as follows :
    • 6,6 without biometry (less than 18 years),
    • 6,8 with biometry (more than 18 years).


Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of Mali since September 4, 2013

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