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Kenya targets electronic passports

NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 28 – Kenyans will soon be able to apply or renew their passports online if a proposal by the Immigration Ministry is approved by the Cabinet.

Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang said the issuance of E-passport and E-visa with an integrated border management system is only awaiting Cabinet approval before they start rolling out the project and come into effect by July next year.

He said the cutting edge technology which involves a passport that contains a micro chip which has details of the applicant’s information and finger prints.

“Not many countries have E-passports, maybe two or three countries have it in the world so we are starting at the top,” he boasted.

Speaking during the launch of the ministry’s five-year strategic plan, Mr Kajwang said they’re also planning to launch online visa applications.

“It will be possible to apply for your Kenyan visa from your bedroom in Mongolia and we will be able – in one minute – to look at your application and if we don’t have any security concerns we will issue your visa,” he added.

“Kenya will be a place that so many people will want to come to not because we are lax but because we have checked before we started,” he said.

He said they would open immigration offices in London and Washington by January; Eldoret, Nakuru and Embu will also host passport processing centres.

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At the same time, Mr Kajwang wants the Ministry of Education to make it mandatory for all children joining Standard One to have birth certificates as a requirement for admission.

He said the aim of increasing population registration network through the use of the Integrated Population Registration System will not be met unless the country achieves universal birth and death registration.

The Minister said: “What we are fighting now is to close the gap of about 60 percent of children who are not registered so that everybody is in the data base.”

He said depending on how soon the national one-stop data shop is fully operational it is projected that its use by the public will enable the system to generate substantial amount of revenue for the ministry.

Mr Kajwang says the system will also help to seal registration loopholes experienced in North Eastern Province due to the influx of refugees illegally acquiring Kenyan identification documents.

“We will put you in at the age of zero so that if somebody comes at the age of 20 and says “I want an ID” we will ask him where were you? We can’t see you, we can’t see your father or mother in this thing; automatically they will not come because we will discover them before they cheat us. Which will be something of the past in another one year.”

The plan will be implemented at a cost Sh30 million per year over five years.
He said the immigration post at Nadapal which has been the cause of tension between Kenyan communities leaving near the Kenya – South Sudan border will remain open. Mr Kajwang explained they are focused on tightening the policing of the vast and porous borders by opening up new border controls points and upgrading the old ones.

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