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Ghana hints at biometric passport fee hike; Nigeria nears fully digitized applications

Ghana hints at biometric passport fee hike; Nigeria nears fully digitized applications
 

A rise in the cost of production could lead to an increase in the fee for obtaining biometric passports in Ghana, the country’s foreign ministry has hinted.

The idea comes as the government in Accra is also planning to introduce a new generation chip-based biometric passports within the first six months of 2024, Graphic writes, citing a CitiTV video.

In a recent outing, Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, deputy minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, expressed worries that Ghana has had to subsidize every passport produced in the country. Difficulties in having the necessary raw material like booklets as well as other printing material is part of the reasons pushing the government towards that decision, he added.

The official said discussions are already underway with Parliament on how the fee adjustment will have to be rolled out.

Making a comparison, Ampratwum-Sarpong said at the moment, Ghana has one of the lowest fees of obtaining passports within the West African region – at just $8, as opposed to about $40 in regional peers like Liberia and Togo.

The Minister was affirmative that the new chip-embedded passport is definitely going to cost more.

“We are thinking of upgrading our passport from biometric to chip-embedded. So, the chip-embedded version is going to cost more,” the deputy minister said.

“Until we are ready to pay the realistic passport fees, we will continue to have these problems that we have at our passport offices. No magic can be done by the officers to solve it,” he added.

He called on Ghanaians to brace up for those imminent changes in order to continue to enjoy the services they require, but the announcement is already sparking criticisms in the country’s social media space.

Nigeria almost done with passport digitization process

In neighboring Nigeria, authorities have told citizens that efforts being made to fully digitize passports are far advanced at 99 percent, as noted by Daily Post.

Speaking recently on Channels Television, a renowned Nigerian TV station, Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo said all the necessary pre-deployment tests have been done and that the system is most likely to fully go operational next week.

With the new system, everything step in the passport application process will be completed online, except biometrics capture, he explained.

The minister had said in an earlier outing that the digital application system for biometric passports will be available 100 percent from February next year.

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