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EAC member states roll out single electronic passport

Acting Interior secretary Fred Matiang’i with the new diplomatic e-passport. PHOTO | MARTIN  MUKANGU | NMG
Acting Interior secretary Fred Matiang’i with the new diplomatic e-passport. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG 

Kenya is Friday morning expected to begin issuance of single electronic East African Community (EAC) passports with the release in Nairobi of the first batch of the new generation documents.

More than 1,800 e-passport applications are expected to be printed on Friday after acting Interior and Co-ordination of National Government secretary Fred Matiangi officially launched it.

“Today, I can attest to you that Kenya has fully complied with Standards and Guidelines set by International Civil Aviation Organisations (ICAO) and EAC Chiefs of Immigration on travel document design, processing and issuance,” said Dr Matiangi.

The new e-passport database is enhanced with Automated Fingerprint Verification system (AFIS) to minimise fraud, identity theft, forgery and passport skimming.

It replaces the machine readable East African and ordinary passports issued by the member states and is available in diplomatic, service and ordinary categories.

The standard international e-Passport will have a chip that holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page, the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information.

The new passport also comes with a biometric identifier and bears a digital photograph of the holder as well as digital security features to prevent unauthorised reading or “scanning” of data stored.

Production of ordinary passports ceased at midnight, leaving the department of immigration with a backlog of 16,000 applications.

This means that the 16,000 applicants must now visit Nyayo House to provide biometric data in order to receive the e-passport.

“Applications will be made at the Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu offices, however, processing will be at Nyayo House before the documents are couriered back to the stations,” said Gordon Kihalangwa, Director of immigration.

The EAC travel document comes in red, green and sky blue — the colours of the EAC flag — but with text and national emblems, in gold to complete its face.

The colour of the passport will depend on categories.

EAC diplomats will carry red passports, green for officials and sky blue for ordinary passports.

Kenya is the second EAC member state after Burundi to issue the single e-passport as part of East African Integration and Cross Border Migration.

EAC directed its members during the 35th EAC Council of Minister’s meeting to commence issuance the New EA e-Passport by 31st January 2018.

EA e-Passport is expected to boost free movement of people across the region and it will be in line with implementation of the Common Market protocol which guaranteed the right to move between countries in East Africa.

Uganda is still in the process of procuring a provider for the new passports while Tanzania and Rwanda are expected to commence with the new EAC e-passports from January 2018.

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