British High Commissioner speech at press conference announcing results of Phase 4 of Mass Registration Campaign on 18 Oct 2017

British High Commissioner, Holly Tett, at the press conference in Mangochi. Photo Credit - UNDP
British High Commissioner, Holly Tett, at the press conference in Mangochi. Photo Credit - UNDP

Speech by Ms. Holly Tett, the British High Commissioner to Malawi, at the Joint-Press Conference announcing the Results of Phase-IV of the Mass Registration Campaign Wednesday 18 October 2017 at the Sunbird Nkopola, Mangochi.

Honorable Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Affairs Grace Chiumia, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues, all protocols observed.

Almost five months ago today, on the 25th of May, I was in Mchinji with the Minister to kick off the Mass Registration Campaign.  We stood next to a young lady, a newly trained Registration Officer, who showed us a brand-new Bio-metric registration kit.

This lady, and 4200 of her colleagues were getting ready to bring 2000 of these kits, containing cutting-edge technology, to all corners of this country, in the hope that millions of Malawians would come to them and register for a National ID.

The planning had been thorough, the training rigorous, and the determination among the thousands involved was palpable. But no-one could know for sure what challenges this complex operation would face.

One and a half months later we were all relieved to see that the campaign had reached its first milestone by achieving a 97 per cent coverage in Phase 1. Results in Phases 2 and 3 have been equally impressive.

In a minute, the Minister will announce the exact figures of the results in Phase 4, and once again the NRB’s registration teams have achieved full coverage among the eligible projected population here in the Eastern Region.

The successful completion of Phase 4 means that some of the dedicated Registration Officers have now finished their assignment, and are being given a Certificate of Recognition for a job well done. This certificate is an acknowledgement of their Bio-metric training and the technical skills, and on-the-job experience during the Mass Registration Campaign. We hope the skills that these young people have learned will open the door to more opportunities.

As we speak, the remaining registration teams are working their way through the final Phase 5 in the north, with its mountainous terrain and sparse population. The people in these districts are walking long distances to reach the registration centers.  But, as in the rest of the country, they keep coming. I am confident, Minister, that you and the NRB will soon be able to announce a figure showing that the Campaign has achieved its target for the entire country. 

I am also delighted to note that on Friday, the distribution of ID cars will start in the districts of Phase 1. When the people of Mchinji, Dowa, Nkhotakota, Salima, Ntchisi and Kasungu hold their cards in their hands, they expect their lives to improve. So, while we have a foundation, the real work is only just starting.  All branches of Government and major institutions now need to build their capacities to ensure that everyone enjoys the full potential of improved access to services that the National ID card provides. 

And we all know that this mass mobilization, however impressive, only is a necessary start for the continuous registration of all eligible citizens by the NRB.

As the Malawian Government’s close partners, we will work with you to ensure that the excellent results so far are fully utilized. The same opportunity for registration that has been provided during this intense campaign must be available for all citizens, always.

But today, on behalf of all Development Partners, I congratulate the Honorable Minister, the staff at the National Registration Bureau and the whole NRIS project team for achieving the target once again.

Tikuthokoza kwambiri pa ntchito yaikuru yomwe mwagwira. Zikomo kwambiri!

We thank you for your magnificent work. Well done!