The Kenyan Government recently announced the decision to roll out ePassports (Electronic Passports) as from 1st September 2017 . The passports, which were due to be released in December 2016 and later pushed for April will have an electronic chip holding the same information as the current national passports. To get the e-passports, citizens will pay the same price as the current version. Before we go further here is a breakdown of the what the ePassport is all about.
An Electronic Passport is the same as a traditional passport with the addition of a small integrated circuit (or “chip”) embedded in the back cover. The chip stores:
- The same data visually displayed on the data page of the passport
- A biometric identifier in the form of a digital image of the passport photograph, which will facilitate the use of face recognition technology at ports-of-entry
- The unique chip identification number
- A digital signature to protect the stored data from alteration
Speaking on the postponement, Immigration Services Director Maj Gen (rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa said the postponement was due to unforeseen circumstances.
The ePassports will be launched in other East African countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan. These passports will provide travellers with benefits such as use of automated border clearance or “E-gates”, automated issuance of boarding passes, and faster travel arrangements with airlines. Details of the passport will be registered with the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
The documents are said to be secure and difficult to duplicate when compared to the existing passports. This travel document is an initiative of the East African Community (EAC) and it will be used by the regional citizens for international travel. It is the EAC’s way of promoting intra African trade.