Kenyans to be issued with ePassports from September
The Kenyan immigration department has announced the issuance of ePassports starting September 2017. Earlier, the Immigration Department has announced that that the issuance would commence in April, but the date has since been pushed to September.
The announcement was posted on their verified Twitter account under Twitter handle @ImmigrationDept. The tweet read:
The public had been earlier notified that the issuance of the Kenyan East African e-Passport was to commence on 3rd April 2017. This was to be done simultaneously with other EAC member states. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the rollout will now be done from 1st September 2017.
The Department is confident that the 1st September rollout date of the Kenyan EAC e-Passpoort will be met.
Thank you fro your support and understanding
The ePassport will store information in an electronic chip. The chip will hold information that was available in the current model. In addition, the electronic chip will have a biometric identifier, digital photograph, and security features to prevent illegal use and forgery.
Travel documents with these chips are registered with the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The ePassport was developed by a carefully selected technical working crew from various member states and approved by the EAC Council.
To get the new passport, you will be required to apply for a replacement and then return the old model passport.
In case you are wondering about the cost, you can sleep at night since the immigration department says that the price will remain the same. Of course, timely communication will be provided in case anything changes.
Talks to enhance integration in the wider East African region have been ongoing; hence, the ePassports are evidence of these efforts. Reports indicate that the new electronic passports are set to be rolled out in other East African regions soon.
The ePassport is an East African initiative and was announced last yet and was set to be unveiled in December 2016.
Kenya does not reserve boasting rights for introducing the ePassports since over 100 other countries have already issued these passports to their citizens. In Africa, these include Ghana, Egypt, and Mauritius.
What does it mean to have the ePassport?
First, it means enhanced security features. This means decreased susceptibility to fraud and forgery. Cases of fake passports have been reported over time. In 2013, a Ugandan woman was arrested on allegations of producing fake passports and this raised fears that this is how terrorist infiltrate a country. The forged passports were discovered shortly after the Westgate Mall terrorist attack.
Second, you get a system that is world-standard in travel documents. The new passport will be compliant with international standards as it will be digitalized and incorporate biometric security. The adoption of technology is a step forward since the various nations will be forced to set up infrastructure, for those that have not. Earlier, the passport was useless outside East Africa but the new ePassport is expected to receive international recognition. The gap has now been bridged.
Third, the immigration department has confirmed that the new passports will bring an end to paperwork as everything is set to be completed online. Applicants will only be required to visit the department’s offices for biometric registration.
Finally, it means better integration for the East African region. It is expected to strengthen the brotherhood among member states and give them a common identity. Regional integration seems to be a favorite topic among heads of states and often seen as a major solution to some problems facing East Africa. This idea has been mere lip service until now.
The integration process does not end there. One of the most impressive suggestions is the creation of a common market. This is being implemented gradually. Hopefully.
Also, there have been talks about a common currency. This seems a bit far-fetched but we cannot live under the assumption that it is not possible. It seems unlikely since some nations appear unwilling but we will wait to see how this will play out eventually.
Nonetheless, a lot remains to be done before the region becomes fully integrated. Whether it will eventually happen or not, only time will tell.