The East African Community member States have been instructed to begin issuing new e-Passports by January 31, 2018.
This is after the 35th EAC Council of Minister’s meeting was made aware that the EAC partner States are in different stages of achieving the EA e-passport.
The Council directives came on the backdrop of the 17th Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State that directed the partner States to commence issuance of the New EAC e-Passport by January 1, 2017.
They were also supposed to implement the phase out programme for the current machine readable East African and national passports from January 1, 2017 to 31st December 2018.
According to the 35th EAC Council of Minister’s report, Burundi reported that it had completed the process of procuring the EA e-Passport booklets and was ready to commence issuance by this month (April 2017).
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda reported to commence issuance of the New International EA e-passport not later than April 2017 while Tanzania will be ready to commence the issuance of EA e–Passport by January 1, 2018.
The EA e-Passport is expected to boost free movement of people across the region, in line with implementation of the Common Market Protocol. It will also comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation standards.
The EAC e–Passport will have the diplomatic, service and ordinary categories. It is different from the current machine readable passport being issued by the regional States.
It will be valid for up to 10 years. Diplomatic and service passports will be valid according to specific term of the service of the holder.
The standard international e-Passport will have a chip that holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page, the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information.
It will also contain a biometric identifier and a digital photograph of the holder among other security features to prevent unauthorised reading or “scanning” of data stored.
According to a statement from the secretariat, the new regional travel document will come in red, green and sky blue – the colours of the EAC flag – but with text and national emblems, in gold to complete its face.
The colour will depend on the passport category. EAC diplomats will carry a passport that is red in colour, green for officials and sky blue for ordinary people.