The Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Ministry has announced intentions to move from the present biometric passport system to a chip-embedded passport system this year, as part of service delivery improvements.
Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, the sector minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, said the chip-embedded passport will improve passport security features.
The CHIP embedded passport project, she explained, is being undertaken through a public-private partnership agreement.
“The agreement is currently being considered by the Ministry of Finance, and the rollout is said to be done in the course of the year. The introduction of the new system will largely enhance the security features of our passports in line with the standards by the International Civil Aviation Organisation,” she said.
Out of stock
The Minister further expressed her regret that the 32-page passport booklet is currently out of stock due to COVID-related disruptions to global supply chains.
“The Ministry placed the order in August, 2021 but the booklets are yet to be delivered. Efforts are being made to ensure that they are delivered sooner rather than later. In the meantime, applicants who cannot wait could apply for the 48 page booklet, which is available,” she said.
It is in this direction that she appealed to the media to help the Ministry sensitise the public to the fact that passports are being processed within the specified period and so there is no need for anybody to pay any money to middlemen to help them.
“The middlemen do not fast track the process in any way, so please do not patronise them,” she cautioned.
Ms Botchwey indicated that, over the years, her outfit had undertaken some initiatives to improve the service delivery of the Passport Office.
She touched on the online application system which was rolled out nationwide in March, 2020 under the Government’s digitisation programme.
“The introduction of the system has made it convenient for applicants to submit their passport applications through an online platform. The online system requires applicants to book an appointment to undertake capturing of data. The new system engendered efficiency in the processing of passports while ensuring reliability and convenience for applicants who do not have to go through much hassle in submitting their passport applications,” she indicated.
Additionally, she said that the Ministry had established a number of passport application centers nationwide as part of efforts to decentralise passport service and bring the application process to the doorstep of the public.
“Accordingly, there are currently 13 centers operating across the country. Construction of the Upper East Regional PAC is to be commenced soon. The target is to ensure that each region has at least one application center to ensure that applicants do not have to travel over long distances to access application services,” she said.
“A premium service has been introduced for willing applicants in order to offer them the opportunity to enjoy a more comfortable and convenient atmosphere whilst going through the application process at the application center. It also provides a courier service which delivers issued passports to applicants in their homes and offices. There are three application centres which offer premium service to applicants. These centres are in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale,” she added.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has extended the validity period of passports from five to 10 years for passport holders above 12 years, and also introduced 48-paged passport booklets to address the specific needs of frequent travellers.
Ms Botchwey pledged the commitment of the ministry to work hard to protect and promote Ghana’s image and reputation abroad, as well as the interests of its citizens, for the larger national interest.