Kenya has delayed the planned April 3 rollout of an electronic passport to allow other East African Community (EAC) member countries to simultaneously launch the document in September.
In a statement, Immigration Department Director Gordon Kihalangwa yesterday said Kenya and its EAC partners, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi will jointly launch the EAC e-passports on September 1.
He had earlier indicated that Kenya was ready to launch e-passports on April 3 after having trained its staff and acquired the necessary e-passport machinery for the rollout at its Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa offices.
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The new e-passports will have a computer chip-embedded on one of the pages where a holder’s biometric information will be captured in a tamper-proof document.
Only e-passport machine-readers owned by immigration departments across the world will access the read-only information.
Besides the security features, e-passport holders’ travel itinerary will be automatically updated at every airport or border point they pass through in real time through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) online portal.
The ICAO management system integrates all e-passport information into its global public key directory, making it impossible for anyone to use a stolen passport or forge one for use in inter-country travel. Roll-out of the e-passports with a 10- year validity period will see the paper-based (analogue) passports gradually phased out with East African countries, joining another 60 other countries across the world that use e-passports.
The decision to launch an EAC e-passport started in 2004 when the Council of Ministers sanctioned formation of an inter-country Immigration experts’ committee to design a new generation e-passport for the EAC member countries.