The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has disclosed that the ministry had begun discussions aimed at introducing chip-embedded passports to keep up the pace of technological advancement and enhance the security of the Ghanaian passport.
Ms Botchway made the revelation at the Meet-the-Press encounter in Accra last Tuesday. She said there were also plans to introduce 48-page passports before the end of this year to satisfy the needs of frequent travellers.
The minister stated that the ministry had over the last two years embarked on a number of initiatives to facilitate the process of passport acquisition for Ghanaians and mentioned some of the initiatives as the online passport application and downloadable Portable Document Format (PDF) passport application forms.
Other such initiatives she said, were the extension of passport applications centres (PACs) to eight regional capitals; the establishment of the Premium Passport Application Centre; overhauling of passport processing equipment; extension of the validity of passports from five years to 10 years among others.
“I believe most applicants will now attest to the improvement in the passport service delivery,” she stressed, and said even though we were not there yet, we were making impressive progress.
The minister announced that the Passport Office had been selected by the World Bank as one of the key public service agencies to receive support to procure necessary logistics such as printers, cameras, scanners, fingerprint scanners, signature pads, servers, furniture and computers to enhance service delivery.
She expressed optimism that by the time the country concluded implementation of the World Bank project and other initiatives, Ghanaians would be enjoying stress-free and efficient passport service delivery, both at home and abroad.
Also, she said, seven of Ghana’s missions abroad, namely Berlin, London, New York, Washington, Pretoria, Abuja and Tokyo, processed and issued biometric passports to compatriots in the Diaspora.
She said in order to minimise the bottlenecks associated with the acquisition of biometric passports, some missions had adopted the mobile enrolment of passport applicants in the course of the year.
The ministry had also earmarked The Hague, Moscow, Paris, Oslo and Brussels in Europe; Beijing and Riyadh in Asia and the Middle East respectively; Addis Ababa, Rabat and Dakar in Africa; Brasilia in South America and Canberra in the Pacific, for the extension of biometric passport service.