800,000 e-passports issued ahead of August 31 deadline


The e-passport avoids reproduction and tampering. FILE PHOTO | NMG

An estimated 800,000 electronic passports have been issued three months to the August 31 deadline amid congestion at the issuing centers.

Immigration Principal Secretary Gordon Kihalangwa told Parliament the department is serving an average of 4,000 passport applicants daily.

The Nyayo House centre caters for 2,000 applicants a day while the Kisumu and Mombasa centres serve 1,000 per day each.

“So far we have issued almost 800,000 passports and we expect a very good number will have been done by 31st August,” he told the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security.

Applicants are required to appear in person at immigration offices to allow for their biometrics to be taken including photograph and fingerprints.

The new-generation e-passports feature a microchip containing data about the holder which also matches the information in the passport booklet.

The e-passport allows information stored on the chip to be verified with the information visually displayed on the booklet.

Due to its highly secure nature, the e-passport avoids reproduction and tampering. It also enhances imposter detection.

After Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was accorded Category One Status by the US, Kenya had pledged to shift to e-passport from September 1, 2017 as part of its commitment to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.

The new generation passport seekers are required to submit applications online, on the e-Citizen platform, which are then printed centrally in Nairobi.

Mr Kihalangwa said plans are underway to open four more centres to ease the congestion at the current issuing stations.

A fortnight ago, the government launched e-passport centres in Pretoria, London, Paris, Dubai, Washington and Beijing, to serve Kenyans in the diaspora.

The centres at the Kenyan embassies abroad means Kenyans will no longer need to travel back home to apply for new travel documents.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said the centres will later be opened in other countries.

While in Namibia in March, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that Kenyan citizens living in foreign countries be issued with the new generation passports in their countries of residence.

The government has been gradually switching to e-systems to improve efficiency and reduce security loopholes.