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Tanzanians rush online for e-passports

By , ITWeb
Tanzania , 07 Jan 2020

Tanzanians rush online for e-passports

As the deadline for use of old passports looms this month, the number of Tanzanians applying for electronic passports has drastically increased to an average of 1,200 applications from between 300 and 400 per day.

In a statement issued by the Tanzanian embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, the Commissioner-General of the Immigration Department, Dr Anna Makakala, is said to have told the Daily News in an exclusive interview that Tanzanians, both within the country and those abroad, are responding positively in applying for e-passports.

"Many people are turning up applying for the new electronic passports since the old ones are no longer eligible for the application of visas," said Dr Makakala.

"Tanzanians with the old passports could only use them to travel from abroad to Tanzania during the remaining period. On the contrary, they cannot use the documents to apply for a visa to travel outside the country," Dr Makakala explained, stressing further that all applicants must possess the national identity cards issued by the National Identification Authority (NIDA).

Dr Makakala added that the Immigration Department has since August 2019 installed equipment for issuance of electronic passports at all Tanzania's embassies abroad.

The commissioner-general stated further that the Tanzanian electronic passports has won accolades globally for its security features, meaning that their holders can travel hassle free unlike previously with the shelved travel documents.

John Magufuli

President John Magufuli was the first Tanzanian to be issued with the electronic passport on 31 January 2018 after attending the launching of the new East African Community's e-passport at the Immigration Department headquarters in Dar es Salaam.

The country selected HID Global as the main supplier for an end-to-end solution for issuing e-passports, said to be part of Tanzania's transformative e-immigration programme.

According to the government of Tanzania the issuance of the e-passport is part of a wider strategy by the regional bloc to boost integration among member states.

"Available data shows that nearly 50 African countries have issued e-passports to their citizens including Ghana, Gabon, Egypt, Morocco and Mauritius, among others," reads an excerpt from the statement.

The 35th EAC Council of Ministers, which convened on 4 April 2017, directed partner states to begin issuing EA e-passport from 31 January 2018, after which the EAC heads of state equally approved the decision.

During the launch of the e-passport in Tanzania in 2018, the then Minister for Home Affairs, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba handed over the documents to top government officials led by President Magufuli and Zanzibar President, Dr Ali Mohammed Shein.

The difference between the previous passport and the current e-passport is that the latter has a chip that stores the holder's biometric information.

The passports are grouped in three categories namely diplomatic, service and ordinary passports and are valid for 10 years.

Among the reasons for the introduction of electronic passports was to step up the war against terrorism and keep abreast with technological advancements globally.

According to Dr Makakala, Tanzania has fully complied with standards and guidelines set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Immigration Department has already initiated online application forms for Tanzanians to apply for the new document.

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