E-Passport to Be Ready Next Year

The directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control has started the process of procuring electronic passports (e-passports) to replace the non-digitised ordinary passports which have hitherto been in use.

Immigration officials say the move is aimed at tightening security at border points and combating terrorism through limiting usage of forged passports. According to the immigration department’s public relations officer, Jacob Siminyu, the e-passports will contain digitised pictures of their bearers, as well as biometric features such as fingerprints and iris scans.

“The standard e-passports specify fingerprints and iris data as additional security biometrics features which have been lacking in ordinary passports. E-passports will largely be more secure, convenient in travelling and generally hard to forge,” he said in an interview on October 24.

Siminyu further said that the e-passport is now a requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations agency. Companies from UK, France and Malaysia are among those that have lined up bids for the contract to process the e-passports, The Observer has learnt.

The minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Aronda Nyakairima, admitted to The Observer that the process of procuring e-passports has started late but vowed to avoid the mistakes that other countries have made while undertaking such an exercise. According to the commissioner for inspection and legal services at the directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, Josephine Ekwang Ali, the e-passport integrates the use of two new technologies radio-frequency identification (RFID) and biometrics.

“This is basically a microprocessor (chip) embedded in the paper passport as well as a contactless mechanism for file data transmission,” she explained in an interview.

Several countries have already introduced e-passports. They include global giants such as the United States, Australia, Germany, Belgium and Malaysia. In Africa, countries that have introduced the e-passport include South Africa, Nigeria, Burundi and South Sudan.

Siminyu said the e-passport will be introduced in November 2015 and its cost shall be determined after selecting the company which will be contracted to do the work.

Source : The Observer

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