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Botswana e-passport, border project halted

Botswana e-passport, border project halted

Botswana’s computerisation of passports and border control project has stopped before it’s even been completed because of a shortage of funds.

The country’s labour and home affairs ministry has indicated that after investing Pula 230 million to facilitate what it calls the ‘swift movement of travellers in and out of the country’, the passport and border control computerisation project is yet to be completed.

Botswana’s e-passport is the latest generation of machine readable travel documents (MRTDs) with chip based security features, which is in compliance with the standards of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

“Due to lack of funds, only major ports of entry were installed with the system. Twenty nine sites were planned for and seven remain to be installed in the roll out plan,” said Osesenaqa Lekgoko, assistant communication manager for the Labour and Home Affairs department.

The automation of the passport system, which currently produces the e-passport and the border control mechanism has been viewed by officials as being critical in terms of crime prevention in particular.

“Security is more tightened as the automation of ports of entry has reduced cases of fraud in the form of faked or forged travelling documents.” said Lekgoko.

Lekgoko said the system has also assisted in the apprehension of wanted or illegal persons, stolen travelling documents, as well as stolen vehicles.

Though critical to the service delivery at border posts, the automation efficiency has received negative reviews from travellers, denting the system’s performance scorecard.

“There are delays but they are not caused by the system,” Lekgoko said, highlighting that some travellers especially within the SADC region are still using manual travelling documents which are not machine readable.

“Until all countries start using machine readable travel documents, delays are to be expected,” said Lekgoko.

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