The East African Community (EAC) is expected to launch e-passports in March 2016, a move that aims at easing movement between the five-nation bloc, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
According to Xinhua reports , EAC’s senior official in-charge of communication unit, Owora Richard Othieno, disclosed this while speaking ahead of the 17th Ordinary EAC Heads of State Summit set for February 29 in Tanzania’s safari capital of Arusha.
Only Burundi currently issues an electronic passport in East Africa.
The long-awaited New Generation e-East African Passport will be a major milestone towards achieving harmonization in the region, while strengthening intra-regional trade ties between member countries.
The e-passport was scheduled for launch in November last year but was postponed to allow more time to airbrush pending issues on the travel document, Xinhua further reports.
Somalia Admission to EAC
The Summit is also expected to deliberate on a report on the verification exercise for the admission of the Republic of Somalia into the EAC.
The e-passport will have an electronic chip that holds the same information in the biometric form, as that printed on the passport’s bio data page, including the holder’s name, date of birth, passport number and what the holder does for a living, among other things, according to The East African.
Last year, Benon Mujuni, Uganda’s Principal Immigration Officer told The East African: “International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is one of the international bodies that we shall inform about the internationalisation of the EAC passport,” he said.
ICAO is responsible for coming up with regulations and standards in immigration and movement of mail and live agricultural products across national borders.
Only Burundi currently issues an electronic passport, while Rwanda has purchased the booklets and issuance systems and is now at the pilot stage.
The cost of this e-passport is expected to be around the $100 mark.