East African passports set to go international

Starting January 2016, the East African Community citizens will begin using regional passports to travel internationally. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP. 

Starting January 2016, the East African Community citizens will begin using regional passports to travel internationally.

All partner states are expected to procure passport booklets and issuance systems between July and October 2015.

The launch date in each partner state will also take place in November of the same year.

The East African passport, which is currently held by few people in Uganda, will then be more meaningful to the populace in the five partner states.

One of the advantages of holding an east African passport is that at border points, and airports within the community, one is accorded a privileged treatment.

The development comes at a time when the International Civil Aviation Organisation has put a 2015 deadline that all countries start using e-passports.

According to the EAC council resolutions, using local passports will stop in November 2015 and then use of international passports starts.

“If we internationalise, then we shall do away with our home country passports- that’s how it will work,” said Mr Lawrence Mujuni, the executive director Ministry Of East African Affairs.
Uganda’s passport control office has for long been plagued by numerous flaws, and fears are already up, that in Uganda- the East African passport could also fall into the same forgeries by none Aast Africans.

“We have the capacity as Uganda to produce such passports with their necessary security features,” Mr Mujuni said, adding that forgeries may be difficult given the proposed security features.
It is, however, still unclear how Ugandans will be able to identify themselves with those passports, given no national identity card is in place.

Among the security specifications identified to be on the travel document is an electronic chip at the right side, with a storage capacity of 32KB, contactless technology and the photo of the holder will appear in a JPEG format.

The fees payable will be left to the individual partner states to determine.

An East African diplomatic passport will be an 48-page document, red in colour. An ordinary passport, also made up of 48 pages, will be sky blue while the official passports will be Green in colour.
The features are proposed to be in conformity with all EAC flag colours while the layout is expected to comply with the existing international specifications.

Source: Africareview.com

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