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SADC to begin production of biometric passports for staff with Botswana facilities

SADC to begin production of biometric passports for staff with Botswana facilities

The Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has concluded a deal with the government of Botswana to begin producing biometric passports using the country’s technological equipment and installations.

As reports IT Web, the deal is in line with the SADC Secretariat plans started about five years ago to facilitate entry of its officials to all member countries with modern travel documents. The idea, the report notes, is also to issue travel documents that are less prone to fraud.

A tweet from the SADC Secretariat notes that the deal is to produce a biometric travel document dubbed ‘Laissez-Passer’ which will be issued to all Secretariat staff “for visa-free entry” into all member countries of the SADC.

SADC is a 16-member regional bloc with rallies mostly countries in the southern end of the African continent. It is the largest regional grouping of the African Union (ECOWAS has 15 members). Its Secretariat headquarters are in Botswana’s capital Gaborone.

IT Web quotes Botswana’s Home Affairs Minister Anna Mokgethi as expressing delight over the partnership saying “I can assure you that my ministry has the capacity and technology to print the travel document as requested by SADC.”

Elias Magosi, SADC executive secretary said the travel document will ease movement for SADC authorities within the bloc and will be another step in efforts to further push regional integration among member states.

The idea to allow SADC Secretariat staff visa-free entry into member states aligns with the bloc’s legal texts on immunities and privileges for officials, Magosi is quoted by IT Web as saying, adding that “These diplomatic immunities privileges and facilities are also accorded in line with the host agreements between SADC and respective member states that host the SADC Secretariat and SADC institutions or subsidiary organizations.”

It is not clear which company will produce the passports for SADC Secretariat staff but German firm Veridos has been the solution provider of biometric passports for Botswana which was the first SADC nation to go biometric with its travel document.

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