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Kenya launches e-passport ahead of December 2018 EAC target

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi holds up the passport/HILARY MWENDA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 31 – The government has launched the Kenyan East African electronic passport ahead of the December 31, 2018 target concurred by East African Community (EAC) members States.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi while presiding over the launch of the new passports on Thursday described the rollout as a milestone in efforts to ensure the digitisation of identification information for all citizens.

“Our departments are coming together and you can see that we are stepping on to a modern digital platform of managing identification and information of our citizens,” Matiangi said during the function also graced by Pakistan High Commissioner to the country Raza Bashir Tarar, his cabinet colleagues Charles Keter (Energy and Petroleum), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Phyllis Kandie (EAC, Labour and Social Protection), Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and Gordon Kihalangwa, the Director General at the Directorate of Immigration and Registration of Persons.

Matiangi lauded the staff at the directorate of immigration for ensuring the timely adoption of the new electronic passports, something he said the government had taken with seriousness since EAC Heads of States agreed on the rollout at the 17th Ordinary Summit held on March 2, 2016 in Arusha.

The new travel documents according to Matiangi comply with guidelines set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), making them admissible globally.


Matiangi however warned immigration staff against irregular issuance of the passports saying the integrity of the new passport will be protected at all cost.

“We want to be even much more serious than we’ve been in handling our identification passports. Our passports must not be in the hands of the people who ought not to have them. The integrity of these documents must be protected,” he said pointing out that already twelve immigration officials had been dismissed on integrity grounds.

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So far 1,800 applications for the electronic passports have been received with the production capacity set at 2,000 per day.

Speaking to Capital FM News, Immigration DG Kihalangwa said all measures have been put in place to ensure the printer is able to process all the requests in a timely manner.

“Right now in the system, I have 1,800 applications ready for printing. The notice we’ve sent to ICAO and embassies is that we are beginning issuance of the documents from Friday.”

He however said all requirements for application and renewal of passports will remain unchanged as well as the number of folios which range from 32 pages for Series A, 48 pages for Series B and 64 pages for Series C passports.

“The duration is the same. You will get the booklet that suits based on your needs. The government is trying to subsidize this process because it’s the right of every citizen to have a passport,” Kihalangwa said adding that the current passport will be phased out by September 1, 2019.

Contrary to perceptions that the passports will reduce the time spent in airports, Kihalangwa said there may not be significant changes say for the fact that document will gag against impersonation and forgery.

“Your details will not be doubted because what is going to be in the chip and the bio data page of the passport will match,” he said.

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The Pakistan envoy to Kenya lauded the government for taking the move saying he admired the progress with which the country was developing its national database.

“Basically this is a testimonial to the visionary leadership of this republic and their seriousness in dealing with immigration matters in a manner that is at par or even exceeds international standards. This is extremely impressive.”

“Kenya has led the way in the use of ICT and I am sure there are better things to come,” he added.

CSs Keter, Mucheru, and Kandie also lauded the Immigration Department for the achievement observing that the electronic passports will enhance trade with other nations while at the same time boosting the credibility of the Kenyan passport globally.

During the launch, two inaugural passports were issued by CS Matiangi, one to James Awino, the other to an undisclosed diplomatic passport holder.

The passports are being printed locally in collaboration with Kenya’s subsidiary of De La Rue.

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