President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed that Kenyans in diaspora be issued with new generation passports in their countries of residence.
Mr Kenyatta, who is on a state visit in Namibia, issued the order to the immigration department and the Foreign Affairs ministry on Thursday when he met Kenyans living and working in the southern African nation.
He said he saw no reason why Kenyans living outside the country should incur huge financial costs to travel back home to Nairobi to acquire the new passports.
“Form a team that will go from country to country to register Kenyans in the diaspora. No Kenyan should be forced to spend money to travel to Kenya to get passports,” he said at the Windhoek Country Club.
The president was responding to requests by Kenyans at the meeting who raised concerns over the difficulties they go through to acquire the new document.
Mr Kenyatta’s directive is a relief to many Kenyans in diaspora who had been forced in incur huge expenses coming back to Nairobi to renew their passports.
They have had to endure long queues at Immigration Department, with some missing out on opportunities due to delays.
Early last month, director-general of the department Alex Muteshi said they had put in place mechanisms to enable Kenyans renew and acquire new-generation passports in Paris, Berlin, Washington, London, Dubai and Johannesburg in the next two months.
Majority of Kenyans in Namibia, immigrated following an MoU signed between the Kenyan and Namibian governments in 2002 through which many health professionals, especially nurses, secured employment in the Southern Africa country.
President Kenyatta assured the nurses who are returning to Kenya from Namibia after the end of their contracts that they will get their jobs back when they get back home.
On the ongoing sustained war against corruption, President Kenyatta assured Kenyans in the diaspora that the crackdown will continue, and that every effort will be made in bringing back integrity to the public service.
He said Kenya has great potential but there was need to change practices that hinder the country from achieving progress adding that corruption is a vice that all Kenyans must unite to fight if the country has to progress.
“If you are corrupt we will fight you. You can be my brother or my sister or my closest political ally but if you are corrupt we will fight you,” said the president.
He said he will not be clouded by ethnicity or status in his quest to leave behind a united nation and assured that he will continue championing the unity of the nation as he urged Kenyans to shun tribalism.
Kenya’s High Commissioner to Namibia Benjamin Lang'at said Kenyans living in Namibia are productive and active in supporting the development of both Kenya and their host country.
On his visit, President Kenyatta was on Thursday the chief guest at the 29th Namibia Independence Day celebrations held in Windhoek.
The president was accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), James Macharia (Transport and Infrastructure), Peter Munya (Trade and Industry) and Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture).
Here are some quick features of the new Kenyan e-Passport:
How to get it: Applicants must personally present themselves to immigration offices for the taking of biometrics (fingerprints, photo, and signature). Those with the current passports will be required to replace them with ePassports within the next one year. All new applications henceforth will be migrated to ePassport.
Fees: The fee for acquiring the ePassport will be Sh4,550 for a 32-page and Sh6,050-page document. The processing period for an ePassport will be 10 working days.
Distinct features: The ePassport has a chip. The chip provides travellers benefits such as use of automated border clearance.
How it works: The ePassport will enhance faster clearance at points of entry and exit. It is highly secure, hence avoids passport reproduction and tampering.
Passport number: The new ePassport will not bear the same passport number as current passport. It will have a new number.
Valid Visa: If you have a valid visa on your current passport it will still be valid after you acquire the new ePassport.
Living abroad: You can renew or get a new ePassport through any Kenya embassy. President Kenyatta's order mean more embassies will be able to issues these documents.
Logo: The e-passport logo, which appears on the cover, is the international symbol for an electronic passport. It means that the passport has an integrated circuit or chip on which data about the passport and passport holder is stored.
Additional report by PSCU and Hillary Kimuyu.