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Interview with Francois Vermeulen, Head Technology Innovation Expert Group on biometrics in Africa

The Biometrics Institute recently held our first training event in Africa in November. A sell out event, delegates from four African nations convened in Pretoria for a 2-day biometrics course with Dr James Wayman.

We spoke to Francois Vermeulen, Head of our Technology Innovation Expert Group and Director of Ideco Biometric Security Solutions, about the course and biometrics in Africa.

In your opinion, what are the two top challenges for biometrics in Africa?
The two main challenges within the African market in my opinion is Economy and Education. Due to budgetary constraints, Africa many times becomes the dumping group for inferior biometric products, leading to unsuccessful implementations and repetitive spending, giving the biometric industry a very bad reputation. Educating the market will ensure that these mistakes are avoided, teaching people about modalities and standards with a strong focus on lessons learned from previous implementations. With the Biometrics Institute being a thought leader, it can assist Africa in these regards by educating the market in deciding on the correct biometric, implementation best practices and continuous monitoring of the system to ensure the success of the implemented system.

This was the Institute’s first training course in Africa – has it helped to address these challenges?
I'm confident that it surely addressed the Educational concerns. We had delegates from all across Africa attending the course ensuring that they gain a firm understanding of the fundamentals of biometrics. Equipped with the knowledge gained from the course they can ensure that the correct biometric hardware, fit for purpose, is procured complying to international quality standards. This does not ensure a successful implementation but gives a solid foundation on which they can build, negating the need for repetitive spending.


What were your 3 key takeaways from the course?
- Ensure you select the correct biometric for the problem that you want to solve
- Do not make any assumption in regards to the population that will be using the system
- Continuous testing pre and post implementation is of the utmost importance