East African Community (EAC) has said it is about to fulfill one of its mandates as EAC citizens will soon acquire EAC e-passports that will help ease their movement in the EAC bloc, Standard Media Kenya reports.
According to a statement from the secretariat, EAC Secretary General Mr Richard Sezibera said that he is looking forward to the “launch of the New Generation e-East African Passport early in the New Year”, without divulging further information about the exact date of the launch.
The EAC e-passport had been scheduled for launch in November last year but was shelved to allow more time to airbrush pending issues on the travel document.
EACs Chair of the Council of Ministers Abdallah Sadaala Abdallah said during last year’s budget presentation to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), that the immigration sub-sector had prioritised the need to enhance the capacity of the Immigration Directorates and Departments to develop integrated e-immigration management systems, create enhanced e-immigration services for the public.
“This is by adopting advanced Technology and improving processes and to put in place a secure e-immigration network, through the adoption of biometric technology at all borders to reinforce the national security systems,” Abdallah added.
The secretariat also allotted funds for study into a regional e-Passport that would be used by the regional citizens for international travel.
Plans to create the electronic passport for the regional citizens of the five EAC member states: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi were first mooted in 2013.
The Secretary General said he remains optimistic that the region is still on track as the EAC have invested a lot of efforts towards coming up with the e-passport amidst challenges.
According to Dr Sezibera, now is the time that Africa will have to invest more in regional integration and promote Intra African Trade if it is to withstand the challenges ahead.
“This is the time for creating a truly African Market – In goods, and Services including financial services. This is the time for shared Industrialization, creating value chains across countries and regions. I am glad East Africa continues to be at the forefront of integration, and growth,” he said.
The Single Customs Territory has continued to deliver benefits to East Africans both on the central corridor, as well as the another corridor. Financial integration is deepening. Free movement of labour is becoming a reality, definitely for Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.