EAC launches electronic Passport


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[/blockquote]The East African community has not only allowed South Sudan to join the block, but has also launched the electronic Passport scheme among other activities during the summit. This means citizens of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan will start issuing electronic or machine readable passports (MRP) a process that was previously scheduled to completed ahead of the November 2015 deadline that was set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) a UN agency that regulates international air transport. Issuing these e-passports will start by 1st Jan 2017.

The new passports will be equipped with an electronic chip that is readable by airport machines across the world where the system is already implemented. In 2003, due to global security threats ICAO adopted the scheme for implementation of both MRPs and use of biometric identifiers in all of its 188 members. The passports are embedded with radio frequency identification chips that are machine readable and carry the passport holders information other than the bio data. In terms of apperance, the new passports will not be different from the existing ones except for the features in the ICAO guidelines.

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The old/ordinary passports are legible by data stored on computers by capturing only the graphic/bio data page.  Text, photos and signatures for the MRP will be written as strings of alphanumeric characters— including signatures and holders’ photographs will be acquired and digitally stored in both regional and international databases in a manner suitable for optical character recognition. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says that the infrastructure is already in place.