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Technical problems, funding gaps complicate biometric passport issuance in Ghana


Ghana has made some significant strides in terms of biometric deployments recently, though there are new reports which suggest the passport office is having trouble managing the large number of applicants for the country’s new biometric passport.

Introduced just over one year ago, Ghanaweb reports that this situation is due to the lack of functional interconnectivity from the main data center to the entire operational centers across the country and as a result, applicants end up having their data sent to the wrong office. This in turn, forces applicants to travel from region to region on the hunt for their own processed data.

The passport office in Accra for example, which receives thousands of applications every day, has only three desktop computers and one scanner, which greatly slows processing capability. Often, in the case of power outages, passport offices are left in the dark, and so too are those waiting in queue for the biometric passports. Only a few offices are equipped with generators as a contingency, and others can’t afford to prepare.

According to E.O Amin, the Director of Passport in the country, problems issuing passports have arisen as a result of the delay in the release of funds from the Ministry of Finance to the Foreign Ministry to purchase needed equipment resources.

Ghana’s machine readable passport is expected to be phased out by 2015, to make way for full adoption of the biometric passport.

Biometric e-passports are increasingly becoming the standard for travel around the world as many countries have opted to introduce them, including Canada, Taiwan, Zimbabwe and others.

According to a SecureIDNews report from 2012, 93 out of 193 U.N member states were issuing e-passports at the time, with 21 additional countries ready to deploy the technology in the next 2 years.

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