Ghana opts for new biometric passports, Taliban resumes issuance in Afghanistan
Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has informed Parliament it plans to begin issuing passports with biometrics-embedded chips from next year.
Nigerian authorities have also digitized payments for the country’s biometric passport to facilitate the process and also move against applicants easily falling prey to fraudsters.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the Taliban government has resumed issuance of the travel document, according to the government’s head of the passport service. The resumption comes after the process had been halted sometime in October.
ICAO compliant biometric passport planned in Ghana
Local news portal MyJoyOnline quotes the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs as saying they had been informed by the ministry of the desire to put in place a new biometric passport system from next year.
Per the ministry, the decision comes as authorities move to tackle some of the security challenges faced in the production of the current passport format. They said the new ones will ensure utmost security and only qualified citizens will be able to have them.
“It is the view of the Ministry that chip-embedded passports will provide maximum security and ensure that only qualified persons hold Ghanaian passports. It will also bring our passport regime in line with international best standards,” Bryan Acheampong was quoted by MyJoyOnline as saying.
He further explained that they were told the project will run on a Public-Private-Partnership basis for a period of ten years, with about $23 million to be invested in the first year.
Upgrading the country’s passport system was stated as a political priority by the governing NPP last year, and the government has also considered making the Ghana Card into a functional travel document.
Nigeria digitizes payment for biometric passport
It is now possible for Nigerians to do almost everything through digital means when applying for a passport – from payment of application fee to pre-enrolment, writes PM News.
The announcement was made recently by the Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola who explained that the step was intended to help Nigerians avoid falling into scams by using third parties or middlemen.
Aregbesola, PM News notes, made the disclosure in the city of Ibadan as he unveiled the enhanced biometric passport with a polycarbonate data page at the start of the this week.
The minister said the decision was taken following incidents in which citizens fell prey to scams. He said the government has however not remained silent in the face of such complaints as it has investigated and brought some of the fraudsters to book.
“But I will implore applicants to stop patronizing touts and our officials directly. Follow the process we put in place. Apply for passports and pay online. The only engagement with our staff is the enrolment of your biometrics. Patronizing touts and passport office officials doesn’t always end well, but rather serves to defeat our purpose of eliminating corruption and infusing integrity to the passport administration process,” PM News cites him as appealing.
Aregbesola also used the platform to announce a new calendar for the passport issuance. Per the schedule, first time applicants have to wait six weeks to get the document, while those going for renewal have a three-week wait time.
Taliban resume passport issuance
Some Afghans can heave a sigh of relief after the Taliban government announced Saturday it was resuming the passport issuance process, according to a report by MSN, citing AFP.
Alam Gul Haqqani, head of the passport department in the interior ministry, was quoted as saying the issuance was recommencing because all the technical issues which caused the break in October had been fixed.
The official disclosed that the issuance will begin for those who had applied for the document before, while new applications will be expected from January 10.
The news has been greeted with excitement by some Afghans who say they had been prevented from traveling out of the country, namely to Pakistan, for medical attention, for lack of a valid travel document.