An initiative by the East African Union will launch e-passports in Kenya and in other East African countries simultaneously.
This is in preparation to issue the first batch of African Union e-passports ahead of the 27th EU summit to be held in Kigali, Rwanda. The official launch is considered a realization of the African dream of Visa-free travel for African citizens within their own continent by 2020.
According to the chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Inazuma, the initiative is both symbolic and significant; a steady step toward the objective of creating a strong prosperous and integrated Africa driven by its own citizens and capable of taking its rightful place on the world stage.
The first group of beneficiaries will include Au heads of state, government ministers of foreign affairs, and permanent representatives of AU member states.
Kenya has plans to roll out the e-passports to Kenyans come 1st September, 2017. The exercise which was to be done in April this year was postponed to September, 1st.The immigration Services Director Maj Gen (rtd) Gordon KIhalangwa noted that the postponement of the exercise from April to September is due to unavoidable circumstances. He added that he is confident that the September target will be met.
Information from the immigration department further elaborates that the e-passport will have an electronic chip that will bear the same as the old passport but with additional information; a biometric identifier, digital photograph of the holder and security features to avoid unauthorized use and forgery.
According to the immigration department, the cost to acquire an e-passport will remain the same amount used to acquire the current passport
To acquire an e-passport, applicants with the current will be required to apply for a replacement passport and return their current ones.
The introduction of the common African passport is an effort towards realizing integration and unity of the continents
Written by Amina Martha.