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Civil servants ordered to acquire e-passports, new diaspora centres opened

By Cyrus Ombati | Oct 3rd 2018 | 3 min read

All civil servants have been ordered to acquire the e-passports within six months failure to which they will not be cleared to travel.

In a directive by head of civil service Joseph Kinyua, the officers have been given until March 1, 2019 to replace old machine readable passports and move to the e-passports.

Consequently, Kinyua announced the state has set up six centres in the country and six others in the diaspora to facilitate the exercise.

“To foster migration to the e-passport by all public servants well ahead of the August 31, 2019 deadline, with effect from February 28, 2019 travel clearances for international travel by public servants, whether official or personal will only be granted where the applicant possesses a Kenyan e-passport,” said Kinyua in his circular.

The circular dated September 26, 2018 and copied to all Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, warns that officials who do not possess the new look document by the March deadline will be ineligible for a grant of travel clearance.

The local stations include Nairobi, Nakuru, Embu, Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisii while Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, Pretoria and Dubai will serve those in the diaspora.

Most of the civil servants have also been spared the hustle of long queues usually witnessed at the immigration offices.

“An e-passport migration desk dedicated to process applications by the public officials in Job-Group Q and above has been opened at Nyayo House, Nairobi. The desk shall cease operations on February 15 next year.”

The immigration department has at the same time received funding to help it in digitizing its services.

The process of digitizing the services is set to begin in December.

The new passport bear the words ‘East African Community’ as well as ‘Kenya’ in line with the drive for regional integration.

The A series, B series, C series and diplomatic passports will cost Sh4,550, Sh6,050, Sh7,550 and Sh7,550, respectively and payments will be made via mobile phone or credit cards.

The e-passports feature a microchip loaded with data about the holder.

"Kenya has fully complied with standards and guidelines set by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and EAC Chief of immigration on travel document design, processing and issuance," said interior CS Fred Matiang'i.

He said the new document is highly secure and difficult to forge as it is enhanced with automated fingerprint verification system that guards against multiple passport issuance to the same person minimising identity theft, data skimming and forgery.

Matiang'i said the e-passport will assist Kenyans in easing travel, especially through use of automated border clearances or e-gates, automated issuance of the boarding passes and faster travel arrangements with airlines and immigration checks worldwide.

"The deployment of the e-passport system will definitely strengthen the integrity and restore international confidence and rating of Kenyan passports," he said.

Kenya becomes the second country after Burundi in the region to issue e-passports to its citizens.

The e-passport will have an electronic chip holding the same information as the old version, alongside a biometric identifier, digital photograph of the holder and security features to prevent unauthorised use and forgery. Details of the passport will be registered with ICAO.

The move is part of the government's switching 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 e-visa system.

The government also rolled out the e-citizen, a one stop portal for information and service to help Kenyans get fast transactions online conveniently.
The government also rolled out the e-citizen, a one stop portal for information and service to help Kenyans get fast transactions online conveniently.

All government agencies are interlinked through a new computer system — Integrated Population Registration System — for personal information of individuals.


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