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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Mumuni Launches Bio-Passports

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Muhammed Mumuni, has launched Ghana’s biometric passports with a call on Ghanaians with valid passports not

to rush for the biometric ones.

He said the current generation of machine readable passports would be in use until November 24, 2015, and, therefore, any rush for the biometric passports by even those with valid passports would put unnecessary pressure on the Passport Office.

The launch attracted members of government, Diplomatic Corps, officials of the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Police Service, among others.

With the launch yesterday, Ghana thus joins Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to be issuing biometric passports.

A Ghanaian company, Buck Press Limited, has been contracted to produce the passport booklets and also set up the Passport Application Centres (PACs).

Under the arrangements, Ecobank, the National Investment Bank, the Ghana Commercial Bank and the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) would sell the passport application forms until such time that selected Ghana Post offices would be included.

A Mobile Passport Application Centre has also been set up to facilitate the applications of physically challenged persons in various institutions.

Alhaji Mumuni said only those in possession of hand-written passports were obliged to change them by April 1, 2010.

He said, some Ghanaians in the Diaspora were in possession of the hand-written passports and indicated that efforts were underway to replace all of them before the April 1, 2010 deadline.

He said the ministry recognised that there would be initial challenges and, therefore, appealed to applicants to exercise restraint, co-operate and support the Passport Office during the early days of the programme.

On the choice of colours for the passports, Alhaji Mumuni explained that the red, blue and green for Diplomatic, Service and Ordinary passports were in conformity with ECOWAS integration agenda.

Alhaji Mumuni said with the commencement of issuance of the biometric passports, there was going to be a reduction of identity theft and other problems associated with the old passports.

He commended the media, particularly the Daily Graphic, which had been in the forefront of educating the public on the transition to biometric passports.

He also expressed appreciation to members of the National Implementation Committee, which was established in 2005, for their dedication and commitment to the successful launch.

Alhaji Mumuni was hopeful that with time, the PACs would be decentralised throughout the country to make them more accessible to Ghanaians.

The acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ambassador Lawrence Satuh, said the biometric passport was intended to enhance the dignity of Ghanaians anywhere in the world when they came face to face with immigration and other security agencies.

He noted that the introduction of the biometric passports would not be welcome news to middlemen, passport contractors and connection men, who made it their business to stand between genuine applicants for passports and the issuing authority for their personal gain.

He, therefore, warned them to desist from resorting to any kind of sabotage tactics, since the security agencies had been alerted to deal with them.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Victor James Gbeho, in an address read on his behalf, described the launch as a significant milestone towards regional integration.

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