Kenya plans new digital passport issuance points

Department of Immigration offices
New passport seekers queue at the Department of Immigration offices at Nyayo House in Nairobi. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL 

The Department of Immigration is set to open new digital passports issuance points across the country and abroad to ease congestion at the Nyayo House, Nairobi, centre.

The Director General of the department, Mr Alex Muteshi, said additional centres will be opened in Kisumu, Mombasa, Kisii, Nakuru, Embu and Eldoret as well as the US and the United Arabs Emirates.

It will be the first time the issuance of digital passports will be decentralised since they were launched in 2017.

“We are opening new locations in Kisii, Nakuru, Eldoret and Embu and we have furniture being prepared as we expect the current pressure at Nyayo House to ease,” said Mr Muteshi. “Those in the Diaspora do not need to travel back here as they will be able to acquire passports from our offices in Paris, Berlin, Washington, London, Dubai and Johannesburg in the next two months,” he added. Mr Muteshi said the pressure at Nyayo House has been overwhelming for the department.

“Apart from new passport applicants, over two and a half million Kenyan passport holders have been streaming in to update their old ones to the electronic type,” he said. The department acquired two machines for the roll out of digital passports two years ago. They were meant to ease congestion and facilitate quick issuance of the document. However, they have been overwhelmed by the high turnout.

Kenya is adopting a new generation passport that has more security features than the previous one. All passport holders will be required to switch to the new document by September 2.

The document eliminates the need for an East African passport.

The African Union unveiled details of the design, production and issuance of a single African passport last week.

The AU wants to eliminate travel barriers by creating seamless borders across the continent.

African leaders started using a common passport in July 2016. The idea of an African passport was raised on numerous occasions during AU summits but implementation of the proposal by member states has been sluggish.