Ghana will from next year move from issuing biometric passport to a chip-embedded passport to its citizens globally, Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration Minister, Hannah Tetteh, has announced.
Addressing the Ghanaian community in Tokyo, Ms Tetteh said the latest development is to enable the country meet international standards, as well as make it possible for Ghanaians in the diaspora to acquire passport from Ghana’s 57missions and consulates worldwide.
This means Ghanaians with the current biometric passport would be required to upgrade to the chip embedded passports which can be acquired locally from all the 10 Regional Passport Application Centres nationwide.
Ms Tetteh is part of the delegation that accompanied President John Dramani Mahama and his wife, Lordina, on their three-day official visit to Japan.
“What we are going to do is not to give you biometric passport but rather to upgrade the system to begin to issue from next year, a chip embedded passport because we are moving from biometric passport to chip embedded passport,” she explained.
This is in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization Regulations which requires member countries to migrate to a chip embedded passport from October this year, she said.
Ms. Tetteh said international procurement processes have already began and six companies have been shortlisted to provide proposals for consideration and award of a Build, Operate and Transfer infrastructure for the new chip embedded passport.
“We are going through a procurement process and it is an international competitive tender, to select a partner who is going to help us to on a BOT basis, to build up the infrastructure across all our embassies [57 missions and consulates], the passport office in Accra and 10 regional passport application centre,” he said
When operational, she said Ghanaian citizens will apply for their Ghanaian passports from all the embassies of Ghana, where a data capturing and printing centre will be built.
“We believe we would finish this process in the next three months…we’ve given ourselves a period of a year to role this out,” he said.
Free visa for AU citizens
Meanwhile, President John Mahama says Ghana’s decision to offer visa on arrival to African Union member citizens is a key policy directed at stimulating African integration and trade within the continent.
From July this year, all AU citizens would be offered a 30-day visa on arrival in Ghana. ECOWAS and AU have over the years sought to improve trade within member States and reduce barriers hindering integration.
Although there has been several protocols on free movement within regional bodies like ECOWAS, implementation has been a challenge.
The President explained at a meeting with the African diplomatic corps in Japan that Ghana’s decision to offer visa on arrival beginning this is year, was born out of its interest in pushing for integration.
He urged other African countries to emulate and adopt similar strategies with the aim of integrating the continent.
Members of the African diplomatic corps in Japan lauded President Mahama for his role in championing continental integration and ensuring a peaceful atmosphere in Ghana.