Africa right now
Friday, February 2, 2018
On business mission to the Comoros islands with
This article is a translation from original article in french, "Semlex fondée par Albert Karaziwan
vous emporte aux Comores".
Do you consider to explore or even work in the Comoros Islands? Here is a testimonial from a
young graduate whose mission was to manage a team in the Comoros archipelago for the launch
of national identity documents. A few months of escape, of human and professional enrichment
within the Semlex society, ... But also moments of discouragement and adaptation. Here is her
A first step into adulthood, my first job at Semlex
"It all started in June 2003. From the top of my 17 years, I had to decide. What studies would I
undertake? During all my childhood I wanted to be a psychologist, but finally, at the last moment, I
choose the economics, a little by chance. I will realize later that I had made the right choice
because I took pleasure to study. So I started with two applications at Saint Louis University
Faculties, followed by a Bachelor of Science degree in Management at the Louvain School of
I was only 21 when I finished my studies, and I did not feel at all ready to work, the "world of
adulthood". In addition, my thirst for traveling demanded to be satisfied. I wanted to take a
sabbatical year before I started serious things. Despite this, I accepted a commercial position in
an independent company, Semlex Europe, founded by a Belgian entrepreneur, Albert Karaziwan.
The latter, however, offered the significant advantage of sending some of its employees abroad ...
Semlex provides secure identification and authentication systems based on biometrics. Guided
by Albert Karaziwan, the commercial team I was part of was negotiating contracts in BOT, mainly
with African countries like Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, etc. A BOT contract
means we create, operate and transfer turnkey systems to our customers. The Contracting
States entrust us with the production of biometric identity documents such as identity cards,
passports, residence cards, etc.
Semlex offers technical support for the State and in each country where the company is located,
we send an expatriate responsible for the management and the proper functioning of its centers.
Biometrics in Africa -
followed by an interview: the
uses of biometrics in Semlex
Africa is now at the leading
edge of technology with the
introduction of biometric
official documents in many countries.
Most Popular Post
▼ 2018 (2)
▼ February (1)
► January (1)
► 2017 (1)
► 2014 (3)
► 2013 (5)
Plus Blog suivant» Créer un blog Connexion
Albert Karaziwan in Mohéli, Comoros "announces that a contract has been signed between the
Comoros Islands (...) and Semlex"
As a commercial in Brussels, my job was, among other things, to prepare technical and financial
proposals, to go to countries where we already have contracts to analyze their operations, and to
participate in various activities such as for example an Interpol conference. .
After 9 months of activity in this company, a new turning point is on the horizon: our director,
Albert Karaziwan, announces that a contract has been signed between the Comoros Islands, a
developing country of the world. Indian Ocean, and Semlex. Mr. Karaziwan warns me that we
must quickly send a manager to set up the project and manage the centers ... it will be me!
A rapid evolution from commercial to director
On June 9, 2008 I fly to Moroni, Grande Comore. With a single stroke of the wing, I move from
"commercial" status to the Brussels headquarters to that of "director" of the main center in
Moroni, Grande Comore and two other centers located on the other two islands, Anjouan and
Moheli. The contract between Semlex and the Comorian state provides for the production of
passports, identity cards and biometric visas, which makes a number of different projects to
manage simultaneously! The residence card and biometric driver's licenses will soon be added to
the list to spice up my mission.
The first month was spent launching the project, which was entirely new. Everything had to be put
in place: the installation of the equipment, the layout of the buildings, the training of the
personnel, the launch of the provisional production and the resolution of technical problems. The
second month was also busy with the inauguration and official opening of the center.
The crowd was coming in droves: the new product that Semlex launched is at the forefront of
technology and therefore very attractive. The timing was indeed ideal because we were on a
summer vacation and the Comorians are great travelers. During these two months, I worked
every day from 7:30 to 22h: a hard pace to follow physically and psychologically ... testify the 5
kilos went up in smoke during this short period of time. This pace also prevented me from really
enjoying the country and its natural riches ... temporarily at least.
My role includes mainly personnel management (about 50 people), the production of biometric
identity documents, the technical monitoring of machines and computer programs, the monitoring
of accounting, production reports and the establishment of a detailed inventory tracking ... in
short, business management. Nothing like me to realize that my four years of study in
management sciences are more than beneficial!
A reality sometimes complicated to manage
I must admit that these first two months were not the simplest. It was very difficult. I had several
times the desire to return but I forced myself not to give up, at least not without having tried. I
received a lot of responsibility all at once. The main difficulty was that I had not received any
training so I did not know what to expect or what I really needed to do. I felt alone and mostly lost.
In addition, the Comoros Islands are three 99% Muslim islands. In a culture where women do not
work and are not considered equal men, I had to assume a difficult status of "manager" by being
not only "woman" but also "young".
This did not facilitate my integration with my staff and the authorities with whom I have to speak
regularly. Little by little, however, I managed to "make my nest" and to make me respect thanks to
the understanding of the mode of operation of the natives. Endless patience also allowed me to
better understand how they work and react.
In addition to having unusual hours, the economic situation of the country does not facilitate my
work. We have indeed experienced several gasoil crises as a result of the breach of the contract
linking the Comorian State and Total. No other contract had been concluded with another
As a result, the Semlex team and local employees found themselves without fuel for more than
three weeks. The Comoros Islands without gas oil, it also means neither electricity nor water. We
only had 3-4 hours of electricity a day, at night only and randomly. So we had to open the center
at night, which meant that many people were pissed off, tired, and staff was exhausted. This
Posted by Esther Summerson at 7:08 AM No comments:
period was not very beneficial for my mood.
With a little hindsight, I think what was most difficult for me to manage here was not really the
management of the centers, but rather the relations with the African authorities, which put
constant pressure on my shoulders. They tend to set the bar very high, or even to demand the
A formative and rewarding experience
How then to react to requests that in the eyes of another culture seem disproportionate or
sometimes simply unrealizable? Fortunately, I gradually begin to take enough distance from this
pressure and relativize. I feel better and therefore I work better.
Since the beginning of October, I finally found the time to explore the country and its mysteries
outside working hours. This island is one of 1000 perfumes, turquoise water and fine sand. I
realize its reputation as a small paradise with white sand is well established.
While the population is extremely poor and the country serves as a dump, but some corners still
make me realize that I live in the Indian Ocean. I had the pleasure of seeing a giant turtle lay on
the beach, dive with the dolphins and listen to the sound of a whale that was about fifty meters
from me ... impressive and beautiful, which contributes of course to my psychological well-being.
This experience is not easy every day, but it is informative and rewarding, culturally and
professionally speaking. It was certainly worth sharing for a brief moment of escape!
Credits: Stéphanie Bouvier, LSG 2007 in http://www.business-and-co.com/success-
stories/semlex-fondee-albert-karaziwan-emporte-aux-comores/ , November 7 2017.
Friday, January 12, 2018
Posted by Esther Summerson at 3:20 AM No comments:
Dominica Electoral Office Semlex eid biometrics
Dominica Electoral O ce Semlex eid biometrics
Saturday, October 21, 2017