East African Community ( EAC) Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera
East African Community ( EAC) Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera

The new state-of-the-art electronic EA travel documents are to be officially launched by the five Heads of State during their forthcoming summit in Arusha on 30, November 2015, according to the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Dr Richard Sezibera.

East African Community ( EAC) Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera
East African Community ( EAC) Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera

The now fully upgraded new EAC passports have been made to fully comply with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, which means they can easily replace national passports among the residents of the five East African countries.

The ICAO standardises and publishes Doc 9303, Machine Readable Travel Documents, which form the basis for the technical standard for machine-readable passports worldwide.

Textual form is written as strings of alphanumeric characters, printed in a manner suitable for optical character recognition.

Previous details of the applicant for the EAC passport are to be legible through computers while the signatures and holders? photographs will be acquired and digitally stored in both regional and international database.

The old model of the EA passports introduced nearly a decade ago by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda before the joining of the Rwanda and Burundi to the EAC four years ago, has the holder data typewritten or hand written on it.

The old travel document being phased out now was meant to simply ease border crossings within the three member states only though also serving as six-month residential permit within the three countries prior to the scrapping of Visa requirements in East Africa.

But, the documents have not been so popular among the residents of these countries because most of them preferred their national passports as issued by the respective Departments of Immigrations.

Of course, even the new EAC passports will still be applied and issued through respective member states? immigration offices.

That is because National Passports have longer shelflife, boasting a total of 10 years of validity period, compared to only five for the old East African passports.

Also, the national travel documents are accepted worldwide while the EA documents only allowed holders to travel within the five member states of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania.

By MARC NKWAME, Tanzania Daily News

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.