Ghana will from next year issue the Economic Community of West African (ECOWAS) passport that will subsequently replace the existing national passport.
The national passport is expected to run side by side with the ECOWAS passport for a one year period after which the national passport will phase-out.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Muhammed Mumuni disclosed this in Accra last week. He said the project initiated in 2003 is a harmonised smart passport (e-Passport) for ECOWAS citizens and will impel Ghana to join the likes of Nigeria, Senegal and Benin which have already 'begun using it. The electronic passport will have a chip to capture and store the bio-metric data (fingerprint information) of holders. The biometric identification serves as a security check to make it impossible for people who fraudulently apply for more than one passport to do so.
Mr. William Awinador Kanwirige, Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained further in an interview that the adoption of the ECOWAS passport is progress made from the use of the ECOWAS Travel Certificate. "The ECOWAS passport does not only give you an ECOWAS citizen identity. Citizens will also use it when applying for international visas," he said.
He made known that the new passport will have the inscription of ECOWAS as well as Ghana, to distinguish it from those held by other ECOWAS citizens. "Every applicant will be tied to the information he gives us. With that, we are optimistic that the new system will tackle passport thefts and multiple acquisitions. "We will be rolling-out sensitisation programmes nationwide to let Ghanaians know of the upcoming change and some new rules that come with the application for the new passport," he said.
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