The country will migrate onto a chip-embedded passport (e-passport) this year in line with best practices, the Director of Passport, Alhaji Mohammed Habib Idris, has said.
After a successful migration, the nation would be in the league of about 150 countries that are currently using the e-passport.
Ambassador-designate of Ghana to the State of Kuwait, Alhaji Idris, who was speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, said the new passport was expected to be launched by the last quarter of this year.
The director, who is involved in the project, however, said work on the new system would commence before he assumed his new role.
Alhaji Idris further explained that the “nation’s decision to switch from the current biometric system to the chip-embedded passport is also to comply with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) member countries”.
“It is also to enhance the security and integrity of the nation’s passport,” he added.
The e-passport project, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, is being implemented through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
On the timely issuance of passports, the Director said there had been some improvement over the years and as a result, people no longer trooped to Accra to access their passports following the establishment of centres across the country.
The centres were set up upon assumption of office of the current government in 2017, and at the moment there are 13 passport centres in the country where applicants can access their passports.
“All what you have to do is to apply through an online portal we have introduced to allow us facilitate the process for you to have your passport.
“We have come a long way in the processing and delivering of passports; evolving from the issuance of high return passports to machine readable passport and now doing biometric passport.
All these are aimed at improving the integrity and security of our passport,” Alhaji Idris added.
He further explained that the online application portal was established to address delays in the system.
He, however, acknowledged that his outfit still experienced challenges sometimes following temporary breakdowns of the system due to the fact that over 100 passports were processed a day.
Except in emergency and peculiar cases, Alhaji Idris said the standard time for processing a passport is between 15 and 21 days, but “due to technical problems we are sometimes not able to meet this deadline.”