Speaking to our Reporter on phone, Executive Director Ministry of East African Affairs Lawrence Mujuni confirmed that work on the e- passport was in progress, but did not specify the time frame to process the e- passports.
He noted that a task force of immigration experts has already put in place a design of the EAC e-passport, adding that the new passport will contain security features for all member states.
He pointed out that the effort to move from a regional passport to an international one is part of the EAC chief’s of immigration agenda tabled in December 2007 in Zanzibar, to approve a new generation e – passport with international status.
A standard e- passport has a chip which holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page, the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information.
It also contains a biometric identifier and may have a digital photograph of the holder and security features to prevent unauthorized reading or “skimming” of data stored. Burundi is the only EAC member with a national e-passport.
Currently, all EAC member states issue an ordinary EAC passport s for travel across EAC member states, but not on international trips. The EAC regional passports give an automatic 6 month visa stay across the states.
Jacob Siminyu Public Relations Officer- Ministry of Internal Affairs, Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control told Redpepper that the Directorate is already preparing to effect the proposed changes.
He mentioned that the technicalities of whether the passports will be printed, alongside the national passports are still being worked on.
According to Siminyu individual countries have to pronounce whether to order for the EAC e-passport or to use it con-currently with the regional EAC passport and ordinary national passports.
The EAC Secretariat in January 2013 announced the roll out of a single tourist visa and common passport as top priority projects this year.