Africa: Kenyans in diaspora to get passports at six new centres
Kenyans in the diaspora will no longer need to travel back to renew their passports or get any other immigration services. This follows Government plans to open six new immigration stations outside the country to ease access to the services.
The stations will be opened by November, according to top Ministry of Interior officials who met at Harambee House in Nairobi on Friday.
They will be opened in South Africa, Dubai, Britain, Belgium, Washington and Los Angeles. “This will help those in those regions get services quickly. They have been suffering trying to renew their passports,” said one of the officials. Meanwhile, Kenyans are supposed to change their current passports to the e-passport version by September next year.
The department has also received funds to digitise its services, which will begin in December.
Regional integration The new passports will bear the words ‘East African Community’ and ‘Kenya’, in line with the ongoing regional integration efforts. The A series, B series, C series and diplomatic passports will cost Sh4,550, Sh6,050, Sh7,550 and Sh7,550, respectively. Payments will be via mobile phone or credit card.
The e-passports feature a microchip bearing the holder’s data. “Kenya has fully complied with standards and guidelines set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and EAC Chief of Immigration on travel document design, processing and issuance,” said Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i. He said the new passport was highly secure and difficult to forge as it was enhanced with an automated fingerprint verification system.
This guards against giving more than one passport to the same person, and minimises identity theft, data skimming and forgery. Dr Matiang’i said the e-passport would help ease travel through use of automated border clearances or e-gates, automated issuance of boarding passes and faster immigration checks and travel arrangements with airlines. “Deployment of the e-passport system will strengthen the integrity and restore international confidence and rating of Kenyan passports,” he said.
Kenya becomes the second country in the region, after Burundi, to issue e-passports. The document has an electronic chip holding the same information as the old version, alongside a biometric identifier, holder’s digital photograph and security features to prevent unauthorised use. Passport details will be registered with ICAO.
Improve efficiency The move is part of the Government’s shift to e-services to improve efficiency and reduce security loopholes. For instance, since 2015, all foreigners visiting Kenya were required to apply for visas online, through the e-visa system. The Government also rolled out e-citizen, a one stop portal for information and services to help Kenyans transact online conveniently. All Government agencies are linked through a new computer system for personal information of individuals.